A banned Shepparton financial planner who ripped off almost half a million dollars from customers has been jailed for two years.
Amanda Ritchie, 46, was sentenced in the Victorian County Court to a maximum four years in jail after pleading guilty to obtaining financial advantage by deception and 34 other theft charges.
“Your offending was brazen, well-planned and executed. The offending is a gross breach of trust,” Judge Irene Lawson said in sentencing on Tuesday.
“You were motivated by greed.”
Ritchie was a partner in the M&S Group, after it restructured in 2010, and had worked as a financial planner from 1999 to 2014.
She asked a staff member to transfer $130 000 out of a customer's self-managed superannuation fund into another account in April 2013.
Ritchie lied that the transfer had been authorised.
Instead, Ritchie used the money to buy shares in Magnitude Group Pty Ltd - a subsidiary of Westpac Banking Corporation - worth about $132 000.
The family's total loss with interest was $144 210 and Judge Lawson said that had been repaid.
Before 2015, Ritchie acted as an accountant and financial planner for a woman and her husband, who died in 2017.
In October 2015, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission permanently banned Ritchie from providing financial services due to previous charges.
Between November 2015 and March 2017, Ritchie electronically withdrew cash 34 times worth $350 905.36 from the same customer's account into her own bank account, the judge said.
“You exploited that relationship after being banned from working as a financial adviser by ASIC,” Judge Lawson said.
“Not only was she dealing with the death of her husband, she also had to deal with the gut-wrenching process of finding out about the theft of money belonging to her.”
She described her reaction as being "soul destroying".
Ritchie had been on a community corrections order for ripping off customers for more than $75 000, involving similar offences, at the time of some of the thefts.
“It is not prior criminal history, but it is of some relevance in sentencing you today,” Judge Lawson said, adding about 15 of the thefts were done while on the order.
She said Ritchie showed a lack of remorse, insight and willingness to take responsibility for her actions.
Ritchie has already served 196 days behind bars.