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AUS: Ex-financial Advisor Allegedly Gambles with Investors’ Money

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Problem gambling can lead to dire consequences for the people affected, including their families. People that have a difficult time controlling their gambling habit can get into debt or in some severe cases resort to crimes or even take their own life. In Australia, gambling is widely spread. So much, in fact, that hundreds of millions are lost to gambling on a monthly basis, resulting in billions of losses annually.

As gambling doesn’t mix well with alcohol, the same goes for people that manage funds and may suffer from problem gambling. Now, a new report released by ABC reveals that a former financial advisor from Perth, accused of stealing more than AU$1 million ($678,500) from clients, is on trial. The man, who allegedly stole money from investors, spent it on online gambling.

The 41-year-old, Mark Raymond Sebo, represents himself in court and denied the allegations. Previously, the financial advisor pleaded not guilty to 36 charges of stealing money from eight different clients. Allegations against Sebo claimed that he stole more than AU$1 million ($678,500) over 10 days. The alleged incident occurred between July and August 2019.

Allegations Claim the Investors’ Money Was Spent on Gambling

The prosecution against Sebo at the WA’s District Court claimed that Sebo was approached by some of his clients, who questioned the transactions they saw on their accounts. However, allegedly the financial advisor told them to file a complaint with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the country’s independent government body in charge of regulating financial services, authorized financial markets and consumer credits, among other financial matters.

The prosecution claimed that in one text message, Sebo wrote: “This is my error … I can no longer fix it for anyone as my accounts have been frozen.” Then, allegedly the financial advisor wrote: “The best you can do at the moment is make a complaint to ASIC.”

So far, no money has been recovered, while Paul Usher, the state prosecutor, alleged that Sebo’s actions violated an agreement with his clients. The financial advisor was in charge of funds belonging to his clients, but he was not given permission to transfer those funds to his business and personal accounts, claimed Usher.

Additionally, the state prosecutor said that evidence would show that the financial advisor spent the money he has taken from his clients’ accounts on gambling via three different online operators. While the trial continues it is yet to be determined whether Sebo will face any penalty and if so, what it might be.

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