Former Melbourne director sentenced to six months imprisonment for fraud

Steven Phillip Heaton of South Melbourne, Victoria, has been sentenced in the County Court of Victoria to six months imprisonment following his conviction on fraud charges brought by ASIC.

Mr Heaton was also ordered to complete a two-year Community Corrections Order.

Mr Heaton was a former director of Independent Products Pty Ltd ACN 169 714 032 (Deregistered) and HVPS Holdings Pty Ltd ACN 169 713 615 (In Liquidation). The companies were specifically incorporated to commercialise an air-conditioning invention that Mr Heaton claimed had significant energy efficiencies.

An ASIC investigation found that between 9 November 2015 and 20 January 2017, Mr Heaton dishonestly made false representations to a number of investors by claiming that BHP Billiton Limited (as it was known) had purchased 100 units for its mining operations when it had not. Consequently, investors collectively loaned to Independent Products, and invested with HVPS Holdings, a total of $1,092,500.33.

Mr Heaton was sentenced on 19 April 2023, with His Honour Judge Rozen remarking that Mr Heaton’s conduct constituted a deliberate and sophisticated fraud that enabled him to obtain over $1 million dollars over a seventeen-month period, and was a clear breach of trust.

As a result of his conviction for dishonesty offences, Mr Heaton is automatically disqualified from managing corporations for five years commencing from the date he is released from prison. His Community Correction Order will commence upon his release and requires that he perform 200 hours of unpaid community work.

The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions after a referral from ASIC.

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