Nicholas James Ellis, the previous director of Tura Pty which owned the Tura Tavern before it went into liquidation, has pleaded guilty to fraud charges.
The collapse of Tura Pty meant the loss of thousands of dollars for the mum and dad shareholders who had invested in the Tura Beach property and business through their self-managed super funds. Almost half a million dollars had been invested by local people in Tura Pty.
A spokeswoman for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, who is prosecuting the matter, said Ellis made false and misleading statements to a number of his clients with the intended purpose of raising funds for the purchase of the Tura Beach Tavern and associated equipment and licences.
“Instead of applying his clients’ funds for the intended purpose, Mr Ellis fraudulently misappropriated over $500,000 of his clients’ funds for his own purposes.
“The guilty pleas followed plea negotiations,” the spokeswoman said.
Ellis, an accountant and former financial adviser from Valentine NSW, pleaded guilty in the Downing Centre District Court, Sydney to two charges of making false or misleading statements to obtain money from clients and fraudulent misappropriation of client funds, respectively.
Following an ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) investigation, Ellis admitted that between about March 23 and July 18, 2009, he sent 10 letters and one email to a number of his clients for the purpose of raising investment funds from them to purchase the Tura Tavern through his company, Tura Pty Limited.
Ellis was also a director of the 2020 Group, where many of the shareholders in the tavern were clients.
The 2020 Group provided financial advice and accountancy services and had offices in Merimbula before moving to Tura Beach and also in Jindabyne.
In a completely separate matter ASIC banned Ellis in 2013 from providing financial services for a period of six years after a matter relating to money from a Pambula-based trust fund.
Ellis pleaded guilty to the charges on August 4 and a sentence hearing has been set down at the NSW District Court in April 2018.
The maximum term of imprisonment for obtaining money by false and misleading statements is five years and for fraudulent misappropriation, seven years.