Ponzi-scheme sentencing delayed

Liquidators of two companies run by Ponzi schemer Paul Clifford Hibbs want to have a say at his sentencing about efforts to recover any of the lost $17.5 million.

The North Island-based liquidators filed a 271-page document on Friday, ahead of Hibb’s sentencing in the Christchurch District Court scheduled for today.

Judge Brian Callaghan decided the sentencing had to be delayed to decide whether the liquidators have standing to speak at victims at Hibbs’ sentencing, and also because a judge would need more time to prepare.

Defence counsel James Rapley said the liquidators had no standing under the Victims’ Rights Act, to present a victim impact statement at the hearing. He questioned the relevance of the liquidators’ document, and its accuracy.

Serious Fraud Office prosecutor Mark Zarifeh had raised the question of whether the prosecution could adopt the liquidators’ submissions, which could be relevant to counter any suggestion that Hibbs had been co-operative.

The liquidators’ report does not suggest there is any money available to pay reparations to Hibbs’ victims. Mr Zarifeh said there was a suggestion of some cash deposits or transfers in Australia, but they had not been able to trace them.

Mr Rapley urged caution about the prosecution “adopting” the liquidators’ submissions because they were not accepted. He said Hibbs had been co-operative and had confessed to the SFO investigators before pleading guilty on October 11.

Many of Hibbs’ victims were at the court to hear that the sentencing could not go ahead. Judge Callaghan further remanded Hibbs in custody for sentencing on May 2. He said the defence and prosecution counsel could discuss the issue in the meantime, but if they could not agree then the issue would have to go to a hearing for a judge to decide.

Hibbs, 49, took the money from 16 different investors and their families and had known many of them for 20 years. He pleaded guilty last year to 25 representative charges of making false statements by a promoter, nine charges of theft by a person in a special relationship, two charges of forgery, and three charges of using forged documents.

He operated an investment advisory business called Cameron Gladstone Investments Ltd from 2002, and Hansa Ltd from 2005. Both companies were in liquidation by the time of his guilty pleas.

At the time of his pleas, the SFO reported to the court: “He had complete control over his client funds. Many of his clients are elderly. Some have lost their entire life savings and given their stage in life are not in a position to recover the capital lost. The agreed loss is not less than $17.5 million.”

The names and details of all of his victims have been suppressed.

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