Broker jailed for stealing clients' shares

A former Queensland stockbroker who acted as a "master manipulator" to steal $1.2 million in shares from his clients has been jailed for 11 years.

Roderick George Halligan, 59, of Spring Hill in Brisbane's inner north, faced Queensland District Court for sentencing on Wednesday after pleading guilty to four counts of fraud and one of attempted fraud.

The court heard Halligan had worked as a stockbroker since the 1990s and during a 12-year period leading up to October 2020 he had transferred shares without permission from the accounts of two female clients.

Halligan either transferred the shares in the prominent Australian companies Suncorp, Macquarie Bank, Wesfarmers and Telstra, to a business he controlled or sold them outright.

Judge Brad Farr said the impact of Halligan's offending went beyond the value of the shares when he initially stole them as their market value had increased significantly.

One of the women's share portfolios would have been worth $2.95 million today if it had not been stolen between 2008 and 2019.

"All these years she trusted you and you breached this trust in the most serious ways," Judge Farr said.

Halligan used his employment with BR Securities Australia to gain access to the CMC Markets trading platform and fraudulently order share transfers worth between $200,000 and $365,000 from the two women's accounts.

In the years after the thefts, Halligan talked the women out of plans to sell the shares and provided them with false dividend statements to conceal the thefts.

He attempted to steal $475,000 from a male client in October 2020 but the share transfer was declined.

Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook said Halligan was still reassuring a client in November 2020 that her investments were safe despite his scheme "all falling apart" at the time.

"These crimes were motivated by Mr Halligan's greed, the case involved breathtaking dishonesty and he was a master manipulator to the end," Mr Cook said.

"This was not opportunistic offending; the crimes were planned, there was trust built and there was callous deception that was ongoing."

Halligan's barrister Daniel Caruana said his client accepted he had committed "an extreme breach of trust".

"He was a very successful (share) trader for his clients and for himself but that went south very quickly during the global financial crisis," Mr Caruana said.

"That can't account for everything, but that was the catalyst. He tried to dig himself out of a hole ... he was borrowing money to make trades from himself and when they didn't do well he was in no position to service those debts."

Judge Farr said Halligan had shown genuine remorse but he found it difficult to accept that a market crash in 2008 was still causing him to commit fraud in 2020.

Halligan had yet to repay his former clients in full and one had to file civil litigation after he never acted on a promise to sell his house to refund her losses.

"(A female client) was affected financially but also suffered emotionally and psychologically and the impact is ongoing to this day," Judge Farr said.

"You made significant gains for yourself and maintained a comfortable lifestyle at the expense of other people."

Halligan will be eligible for parole in September 2026 after serving one third of his sentence.