Gold Coast property swindler sentenced to seven years in prison

A Gold Coast property spruiker who swindled $675,000 from retirees and other vulnerable investors in a Ponzi-type scheme has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

He claimed to have secured their investments with interests in units at Mount Panorama Resort, New South Wales, and properties in Fiji.

Nebojsa Jovicic, 45, from Robina on the Gold Coast, pleaded guilty in the Southport District Court to seven counts of defrauding Gold Coast and Brisbane investors, who were induced to pay a total of approximately $675,000 to his Perpetual Acquisitions Pty Ltd and Robina Properties (Qld) Pty Ltd businesses.

Both companies went into liquidation in July 2006.

The conviction follows an ASIC investigation into a purported investment scheme run by Jovicic between January 1, 2005 and May 8 2006.

In December 2006 ASIC obtained orders in the Supreme Court of Queensland restraining Jovicic from operating an unregistered managed investment scheme or carrying on a financial services business.

According to ASIC, Jovicic met with potential investors in their homes and at other venues in Brisbane, Southport and Bundaberg, promising them returns of 50% per year.

“The investors were vulnerable and inexperienced investors. The judge noted that they had modest means and their financial situations had been severely affected for the foreseeable future. Many of them are of retirement age and had borrowed through mortgages to invest. They will not get their money back and are now forced to continue working to pay off their loans,” ASIC notes.

The corporate watchdog’s investigation found that “Jovicic had paid substantial funds received from investors to himself, which was used for personal expenses and large unexplained cash withdrawals. Some of the money had been used to pay the interest to other investors in a Ponzi-style scheme”.

"Mr Jovicic’s conduct involved a gross breach of trust of the investors. His actions were very serious and have left his victims in difficult financial positions. His jailing should send a strong message that ASIC will act to ensure those who deliberately misuse and misappropriate investors’ money are brought to account,” says ASIC deputy chairwoman Belinda Gibson.

‘The experience of the investors in this matter should serve as a timely reminder to investors to beware of returns that sound too good to be true. Before you invest in any scheme, you should do independent checks to see how the returns are really going to be made and don’t just trust the word of the person selling you the scheme,” she adds.

Jovicic will be eligible for parole on December 23, 2013.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions prosecuted the matter.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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