A man who helped cheat investors out of more than $4 million has had his prison sentence reduced.

Last year Lance Jack Ryan was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court to seven and a half years in prison for his part in a Ponzi scheme known as BlackfortFX, a foreign exchange platform that sucked in 900 people.

Another man, Jimmie McNicholl, was also convicted and sentenced to 11 months home detention and $50,000 in reparations on charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

The mainly Christchurch investors ploughed approximately $8.3m into the scheme but no actual trading of foreign exchange occurred. The liquidator of BlackfortFX anticipates losses to investors will total $4.4m, in what the court found to be an "elaborate scheme of deception".


Ryan, also known as Lance Thompson, pleaded guilty to the fraud. He also had 56 dishonesty convictions, involving misleading Social Welfare officers and unlawfully using documents for pecuniary advantage.

At an appeal hearing last month Ryan argued the starting point for his sentence was too high relative to comparable sentences, and failed to reconsider the totality principle for multiple sentences.

In written submissions, he referred to a number of other fraud cases resulting in sentences with lower starting points than the 12 years adopted for Ryan.

In allowing the appeal against sentence, Justices Helen Winkelmann and Christian Whata said the starting point for Ryan was "manifestly excessive" and reflected offending for which he had already been sentenced for.

"We take into account that Mr Ryan was not the principal offender in the offending for which he [had] already been sentenced, and it was not, compared to the BlackfortFX offending, serious. We consider a starting point of nine years and six months' imprisonment is sufficient to capture the totality of the two sets of offending."

The Court of Appeal quashed Ryan's original sentence and resentenced him to six years' cumulative imprisonment. A minimum period of three years was imposed.