A thrill-seeking stockbroker's addiction to high-risk trading has landed him in jail after he lost almost $9 million of investors' funds.
Former Patersons Securities financial broker Thanh Tu was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years' jail on Monday after he admitted using $9 million in investment funds from dozens of clients to feed an obsession with speculative share trading.
The Brisbane District Court heard the 39-year-old told his 26 clients their money was safely invested in blue-chip shares and even provided certificates of investment to back the claims up.
Instead, he diverted the money to personal accounts to trade using contracts for difference (CFDs) and warrants - both high-risk investments.
By the time the Vietnamese-born stockbroker's scam was discovered in 2013 - after five years of siphoning clients' money - there was only $959,000 left.
Summing up the case, Judge Paul Smith said Tu was described as a gambling addict who thrived on risk, worked long hours and shunned sleep and family to indulge his obsession with the stock market.
"It gave you a sense of thrill, and you would continue to gamble despite mounting losses," the judge said.
"You'd hate the weekends because you were pre-occupied by the markets."
Judge Smith said small wins of $20,000 in a day spurred Tu on, but he inevitably lost any profit he made.
Among Tu's victims were his ex-wife and her parents, as well as Tu's sister and her husband.
He was forced to sell his house after a market crash in 2011 and paid some clients their expected "interest" out of others' investment capital.
The scam was discovered when a client tried to access money to pay for her mother's surgery and was told Patersons had no record of her.
The disgraced stockbroker cooperated with authorities and pleaded guilty last November to 33 counts of fraud and 21 counts of fraudulent falsification of records.
He's been banned from ever providing financial services in Australia.
Tu will be eligible for parole in November 2018.