Former Healthzone Limited director, Mr Peter David Roach, was sentenced on Friday 24 November in the Sydney District Court to 4 years and 3 months imprisonment for fraud and related offences. The sentencing comes after Mr Roach was found guilty on 12 October 2017 of conspiracy to dishonestly obtain a $1 million director’s loan, as well as two counts of providing false and misleading information to the ASX and six counts of falsifying company documents. Mr Roach must serve a minimum of 2 years and 3 months of his sentence in prison before becoming eligible for parole.
The jury hearing the case found that Mr Roach conspired with Ge Wu, a fellow director of Healthzone, to defraud the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Healthzone by obtaining a $1 million loan. The $1 million was loaned to Healthzone by CBA for on-lending to Mr Roach to buy shares in Healthzone. Instead, Mr Roach used $900,000 of those funds to settle a family-related property issue and did not purchase any shares with the money from the loan. Instead, he used the balance to pay personal and business related expenses (refer: 17-345MR and 14-165MR).
The Court heard that both he and Mr Wu knew that the true purpose of the loan was to settle this family-related property issue and not to purchase shares in Healthzone as represented to the CBA and the board of directors.
Following CBA providing the loan, Mr Roach authorised two ASX announcements to be made which falsely stated that he had purchased shares in Healthzone. No such purchase took place. In addition, Mr Roach falsified company documents, including altering legal advice provided by Healthzone’s lawyers.
ASIC Commissioner Cathie Armour said: “This was serious misconduct by the former Chairman of a publicly listed company, calculated to defraud a bank of a very large sum of money and mislead shareholders and investors.”
“The sentence imposed by the Court sends a clear message to the corporate world that the consequences of such misconduct are serious. ASIC reminds those who are thinking of engaging in illegal conduct that the likelihood of being detected by ASIC is increasing.”
The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Healthzone listed on the ASX in November 2006 following an initial public offering and was delisted when it was placed into external administration and receivership in November 2011. Healthzone went into liquidation in March 2012.
Mr Wu had previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy with Mr Roach and Mr Dulhunty to commit the market manipulation offences and also to a breach of his director’s duties in relation to the $1 million director’s loan for Mr Roach.
Mr Wu was sentenced for these offences in December 2015 and served a period of imprisonment. His period of imprisonment was discounted by 35% for his early guilty plea and he also received a further discount of 5% for his assistance to ASIC and giving evidence in Mr Roach’s trial.