Court sentences former BBY head of operations

9 June 2023
| By Rhea Nath |
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Fiona Mae Bilton, former head of operations of collapsed stockbroking firm BBY Limited, has received a sentence after she previously pled guilty to three counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage.

The court sentenced her to imprisonment of 20 months, which was suspended for three years on the first charge. It imposed a community correction order for three and a half years on the second and third charges, including 380 hours of unpaid community work.

As a result of the convictions, Bilton would be automatically disqualified from managing corporations for five years and would be unable to be involved in the business of a market participant in connection with securities and futures markets.

When handing down the sentence, His Honour Judge Doyle noted the sentence took into account mitigating factors, including the significant admissions Bilton made early in ASIC’s investigation and her plea of guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Without these, a lengthy term of imprisonment would have been imposed, he said.

Between June 2013 and May 2015, Bilton deceived St.George Bank regarding the amount of BBY’s unsettled equities trades for the benefit of the company and claimed additional funding from an overdraft facility for BBY on 115 separate occasions.

With the alleged involvement of others at BBY, she sent false summaries of unsettled client contracts to the bank to support the requests for additional funding from its overdraft facility. 

She claimed the additional funding on behalf of BBY, even though she was aware that BBY was not entitled to:

  • Draw down $4,394,962 on 28 June 2013 (which was repaid the following day)
  • Drawdown of an average of $3.53 million per day in the period mid-November 2014 to February 2015 (which was repaid the following day)
  • Retain the additional funding from its overdraft facility during the period March to May 2015 of an average daily amount of $2.67 million

Her final claim on 6 May 2015 in the amount of $3,376,417 was unpaid and formed part of the claim by St.George upon BBY in liquidation.

The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions after a referral by ASIC.
BBY had been placed into voluntary administration in May 2015 and in liquidation in June 2015 with significant client shortfalls. 

ASIC had suspended BBY’s AFS licence in May 2015, which remained in place until its licence was cancelled in June 2021. 

The collapse was the largest Australian stockbroking failure since the Global Financial Crisis with 6,000 former clients claiming $62 million against client assets. BBY held assets in, among others, client segregated accounts, futures contracts and options, exchange-traded options, and products offered via Saxo Capital Markets.

The investigation into BBY is ongoing.

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