Defunct developer’s director found guilty of stealing $820,000

Former director of property developer Ocean Key Holdings Limited, now defunct, has been found guilty of stealing in excess of $820,000, according to ASIC.

The former director, Neil James Duckworth, of Mindarie, Western Australia, was accused of using money borrowed by Ocean Key Holdings Limited secured against land owned by the company to pay for personal and other unrelated expenses in October 2007.

Property Observer reported in December 2011 of Duckworth facing charges.

Duckworth, of Duncraig, Western Australia, was charged with 22 counts of stealing as a director of the company.

A four-week trial in the Perth District Court, a jury found Duckworth guilty on 20 counts yesterday. Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

It was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

He will return to Perth District Court on Friday 20 December 2013 for his sentencing hearing.

ASIC commissioner John Price said that directors are important gatekeepers in Australia’s financial system.

“ASIC expects them to act honestly, take their responsibilities seriously and discharge their duties carefully,” said Price.

Ocean Key Holdings was deregistered by ASIC in 2010, it was also known as Ocean Keys.

ASIC records note that in 2006 an Offer Information Statement was used, seeking to raise $5 million from the public to undertake a subdivision and sale of land purchased by the company. The land, in WA’s Lancelin, was never subdivided and no progress was made. The land had been mortgaged, with the funds used by Duckworth for largely unrelated purposes.

The funds have not been repaid.

This article first appeared on Property Observer.

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