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Accountant jailed for operating illegal scheme

A Melbourne-based accountant was sentenced to prison by a county court yesterday on charges brought by ASIC relating to “illegal investment schemes”.

Mark Ronald Letten, former director of liquidated firm LGH Holdings and principal of Lettens, received a sentence of five years and eight months in the Melbourne County Court after previously pleading guilty to 27 charges, including 21 “unregistered managed investment schemes relating to property development”.

Mr Letten also admitted to carrying on a financial services business without an AFSL and dishonestly using his position as a company director.

“Between 1998 and 2010, more than 1,000 investors, the majority of whom were sourced through Mr Letten's accountancy practice, placed more than $100 million in investment property schemes in Australia and New Zealand,” said a statement from ASIC.

“Mr Letten managed and promoted the projects through a number of companies, including LGH Holdings Ltd. Investors suffered losses of at least $67 million in the schemes.”

ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft said that Mr Letten had “acted in complete disregard for the law and with little concern for the interests of the investors” and that “jailing should send a strong message to company directors and scheme operators about the serious consequences of operating property investment schemes outside the legal requirements”.