Ponzi crook denied parole

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Guilty plea: David Ross during his first court appearance in Wellington

A fraudster who conned about 27 Wakatipu investors as part of the country’s largest Ponzi scheme must spend at least another year in prison.

Wellington-based financial advisor David Ross failed in his bid for parole earlier this week.

He’s served five years of a 10 year and 10 month sentence for swindling about $115 million out of 700-plus clients.

A psychologist’s report to the parole board found he is a “low risk” of further offending.

“But low risk is not undue risk”, the board concludes in its decision.

It found the parole conditions were insufficient to manage Ross’ level of risk to the community, given the “unprecedented and enormous scale” of his offending over 12 years and both the extent and complexity of his lies and dishonesty.

The decision highlights the fact many of his victims were elderly, including those disabled, frail and ill.

“There is no sure foundation upon which the board could conclude that the same factors which enabled Mr Ross to lie, deceive and steal so com-prehensively and for so long, throughout his years of offending, are not still present at an undue level.

“…his proven ability to identify further victims and deceive them essentially remains unchanged.”

His lawyer, Mike Kilbride, had highlighted the assessed low risk of further offending and the fact he won’t have a chance to reoffend due to his notoriety, and disqualification from the financial industry.

“Mr Ross himself said to the board that he is a broken and flawed man, that he is shunned, and that he now has no reputation to speak of,” the decision reads.

Ross was, however, guarded over providing a detailed account of his offending, due to his concern that a substantial number of civil claims await him on his eventual release.

He told the board that a computer error in 2006 which overstated the value of some parts of some of his clients’ portfolios, and his spiralling dishonest attempts to mitigate it, was behind the offending.

He denied the existence of a concealed fund he might have access to on his release.

Ross will be seen by the parole board again in 12 months’ time.