NSW property agent caught in Nigerian Ponzi scam gets eight months’ jail

Well-known Cooma livestock and property agent Bill Wilkinson has been jailed for an eight-month non-parole period after being found guilty of six offences of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception involving the funds of his business clients.

Bill Wilkinson of Bill Wilkinson Agencies Pty Ltd (BWA) was sentenced by magistrate Chris Bone earlier this month.

A statement of facts tendered to the court said that eight creditors of BWA suffered a total loss of $1,294,576.

It was estimated that Wilkinson advanced $3.7 million to Denis Fing, an Australian citizen in Africa according to the Cooma Monaro Express, with no return over a five-year period in a Ponzi scheme.

Wilkinson deposited the money into what was described as a Nigerian loans or a Ponzi scheme, over the five years although the offences for which he was jailed occurred between February and October 2010. Fing has been named as involved in lottery fraud in international websites.

The court heard that Wilkinson through his business, BWA, continued to make deposits into the scam, which was the motivating factor for his deceitful and fraudulent conduct.

In addition to BWA creditors, Wilkinson borrowed $700,000 from his daughter to support his deposits into the scam, which he also lost.

His company was placed into administration in October 2010, with 11 of the 22 creditors attending the initial creditors meeting. As he had been in the livestock agency business for more than 40 years, most of them in Cooma, the news of the agency’s collapse sent shock waves through the industry. Chief executive of the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association Andy Madigan could recall only two other cases in the last 35 years.

The creditors included Braidwood Cattle Co, which claimed $164,000. Clea Patroral Company was listed as being owed $240,000. EBH Pty was listed as being owed $222,000, the NAB was owed $340,000, South Bukalong Pastoral was listed as being owed $279,000 and the estate of the late Charlie Mueller listed as being owed $151,000.

Wilkinson will be due for release on October 9, 2012.

Wilkinson, who made full admissions and was very remorseful, was unable to attend the initial creditors’ meeting due to ill health.

He had worked in the industry for 44 years and had traded as Bill Wilkinson Agencies since February 1993.

Cooma liquidator Chris Chamberlain made brief contact with Denis Fing but has since been able to contact him after reports that he had been allegedly kidnapped in Nigeria.

It is understood Bill Wilkinson was among many Australian victims of the Ponzi scheme.

This article first appeared on Property Observer

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