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13-077MR ASIC appeal sees former CFO jailed

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Peter Couper, the former CFO of the parent company of Bill Express, has been jailed following an ASIC appeal against a suspended jail sentence imposed on him over his role in the collapse of the payments processor.

The Victorian Court of Appeal today sentenced Mr Couper to 22 months in jail, to be released after 60 days, and fined him $10,000.

In July 2012 the Victorian County Court sentenced Couper, 59, to 21 months’ jail, wholly suspended, and fined him $10,000 for falsifying the accounts of Bill Express and lying to the company’s auditor and ASIC (refer 12-150MR).

In delivering judgment, Justice of Appeal Tate said Couper’s conduct had the potential to harm the public’s confidence in the integrity of Australia’s markets.

‘This is particularly so when the financial crime involves deceit and fraud perpetrated not only on an unidentified class of individuals who purchased and sold BXP shares during the relevant times, but a fraud perpetrated on the general public who are entitled to rely upon the integrity of the market and the appropriate enforceability of the offences which the Commonwealth Parliament has created in relation to it,’ Justice Tate said.

ASIC Deputy Chair Belinda Gibson said lying to the regulator would not be tolerated.

‘This judgment from the Victorian Court of appeal reinforces the importance of the market not being misled and the very serious consequences for company officers who breach their obligations under the Corporations Act 2001 and who then mislead ASIC. They can expect to be prosecuted and for ASIC to seek jail terms in appropriate cases’, Ms Gibson said.

The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

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