A former investment company director has been sent to prison following ASIC action, and is due to give birth during the first month of her incarceration.
Tania Michele Oakley, 38, of Noosa, Queensland, pleaded guilty in the Maroochydore District Court to three criminal charges following ASIC’s investigation into her conduct.
The charges related to her role as the sole director of what an ASIC statement described as “purported investment company”, Tanoak Pty Ltd.
The charges to which Oakley has pleaded guilty are:
one count of directly or indirectly gaining an advantage for herself. ASIC alleged that she used approximately $766,900 of investor funds to purchase a house, and that the funds had been invested with her company to purchase equities on behalf of investors;
one count, while carrying on a financial services business, of engaging in dishonest conduct in relation to a financial product or financial service. ASIC alleged that Oakley issued false statements to about 10 investors to cover losses she had made from trading investors’ funds; and
one count of carrying on a financial services business without holding an AFS licence covering the provision of the financial service.
The majority of the investors to which the charges relate live on the Sunshine Coast, while some also live in Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra.
Oakley was sentenced to 24 months jail, but ordered to serve six months.
“Directors must act honestly and must not use their position to advantage themselves,” said ASIC Deputy Chairman Belinda Gibson. “When the conduct of gatekeepers like directors is in complete contrast to the standards the public expect them to uphold, we will act.”
Clients spring to defence
However, in an interesting twist, the Sunshine Coast Daily reported that two of her former clients, who together claim to have lost around $1.15m, wrote references in support of Oakley – with one even flying back from Europe to support her in court.
Defence counsel Jeff Hunter stated that Oakley’s intentions were always lawful. Her trading reputation carried into her role as tutor at the Australian College of Financial Services, where students asked Oakley to invest on their behalf, a practice the Sunshine Coast Daily says grew and eventually led to her starting her own financial advice business.
"This wasn't a scam where she was trying to induce vulnerable people to contribute money," he said. “On the contrary, people were coming to her asking her to invest money.”
Oakley claimed to have lost the will to trade after two failed attempts at IVF, however, continued trading and fell pregnant naturally to what has been dubbed as a ‘miracle baby’ before being formally charged with the offences in May.
As a result of pleading guilty to all charges, Oakley will likely be able to care for her baby while incarcerated.