A 49-year-old man who used his business to conduct a Ponzi scheme has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Paul Clifford Hibbs was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court on Friday, for a Ponzi scheme which took $17.5 million from investors, some of whom he had known for years.

Justice David Saunders told Hibbs he had "weaved a web of deceit for eight years when dealing with client funds and their portfolios".

Hibbs - who started his own investment company in 2002 - pleaded guilty to a string of charges including theft by a person in a special relationship, forgery and false statements.

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"You ran a Ponzi scheme over eight years resulting in deceiving 22 clients of around $17.5m," Judge Saunders said.

The impact on your clients has been nothing short of devastating; you used the friendships you developed to breach the trust they placed in you to place their investments, Judge Saunders said.

Hibbs was sentenced to eight years in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of four years.

- NZN