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Accountant convicted in property developer collapse

A Melbourne-based accountant has been convicted for making misleading and false statements as part of the fallout from the collapse of property group Dollarforce Financial Services.

According to a statement from the corporate regulator, James Stephen Lewis, an officer of Altitude Property Limited – one of the companies within the Dollarforce group – was found guilty of one charge of making a false or misleading statement or omission in a prospectus lodged with ASIC regarding “incentive payments” made.

Mr Lewis was found not guilty of four charges of falsifying accounts.

Meanwhile, former Dollarforce director Clestus Weerappah was sentenced to four years’ jail with a non-parole period of two years after he was found guilty of creating a false deed of sale.

“The actions of Mr Weerappah and Mr Lewis were reprehensible and represented a gross breach of investors’ trust,” said ASIC commissioner Greg Tanzer.

“When ASIC sought information to be included in a prospectus, Mr Weerappah falsified information about the financial standing of an entity to be acquired with investor funds and Mr Lewis with Mr Weerapah failed to inform ASIC and investors in Altitude Property Ltd of an agreement they had entered into which also led to funds being paid to an entity of Mr Werrappah’s.

“The law is very clear, directors must act honestly and in the best interests of the company.”