Croydon man pleads guilty to charges linked to Courtenay House

David Sipina of Croydon, NSW, has entered a guilty plea to criminal charges in connection with his role at Courtenay House, marking him as the third individual to admit to criminal offenses related to the $180 million Ponzi scheme.

The Downing Centre Local Court heard Sipina’s guilty plea on March 19, 2024, for one count of operating a financial services business without a license and one count of dealing in proceeds of crime amounting to $1 million or more.

Courtenay House was accused by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) of being a front for a Ponzi scheme. The scheme allegedly enticed 585 investors to contribute over $180 million with promises of returns from Forex and Futures market trading. However, ASIC claims that only a minimal portion of these funds was actually invested, with the majority used to pay returns to earlier investors in classic Ponzi fashion.

Sipina’s guilty plea acknowledges his participation in an unlicensed financial services business from June 24, 2015, to April 21, 2017, where his responsibilities included investor referral and marketing. Notably, it was not alleged that Sipina was aware of the underlying Ponzi scheme. Additionally, he admitted to dealing with proceeds of crime through the commissions he earned by promoting investments in Courtenay House, despite its unlicensed status.

Following his plea, Sipina was sent to the Sydney District Court for sentencing, with his first court appearance scheduled for April 19, 2024. A related charge of dishonest conduct concerning financial products or services was dropped in light of his guilty plea to the primary charges.

This case is part of a broader investigation into Courtenay House, led by ASIC and prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. Earlier, Athan Papoulias, a former contractor for Courtenay House, received a two-year sentence for his role in the unlicensed financial services business, including 120 hours of community service.

Former Courtenay House director, Tony Iervasi, also pleaded guilty to charges related to operating the Ponzi scheme, with his sentencing hearing scheduled for April 22 and 24.