SFO charges Ponzi accused Hibbs with defrauding investors

Paul Hibbs' legitimate businesses developed into a Ponzi scheme.

The Serious Fraud Office has charged Christchurch businessman Paul Hibbs with defrauding investors by operating a Ponzi scheme.

Hibbs appeared in the Christchurch District Court today facing Crimes Act charges of making a false statement by promoter, theft by person in special relationship, using forged documents, and forgery, the white-collar crime law enforcement agency said in a statement. Hibbs will reappear in court on July 12.

The law enforcement agency says Hibbs' legitimate businesses developed into a Ponzi scheme - where new money is used to pay existing investors - in 2008, and that he gave false investment reports to clients and used investors' funds for purposes other than required, such as paying other investors.

"The SFO alleges that Mr Hibbs went to some lengths to ensure that information provided to investors looked genuine," SFO director Julie Read said. "Investors who suspected that their money was being misappropriated took the right action in reporting the matter to the FMA who referred the matter to the SFO."

The Financial Markets Authority and the SFO launched an investigation into Hibbs and Hansa in July last year, and in January this year, Hansa liquidators Steve Khov and Damien Grant of Waterstone said their early investigations indicated the firm was being run as a Ponzi scheme.

(BusinessDesk)

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