Sydney banker jailed for insider trading

By Rebekah Ison
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Oliver Curtis gets minimum 1yr in jail

Stockbroker Oliver Curtis has been sentenced to a minimum of one year in jail for insider trading.

Oliver Curtis has gone from high-society Sydney banker to jailbird.

The husband of well-known publicist Roxy Jacenko will spend a year in jail for conspiring to commit illicit trades that netted him and then-friend John Hartman $1.43 million when they were in their early 20s.

Ms Jacenko wiped at her eyes and exchanged kisses with her husband before leaving the court in silence after the sentence.

In handing down the punishment in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday, Justice Lucy McCallum said the profits from the conspiracy were used to "fund a lifestyle of conspicuous extravagance".

The jury heard Curtis made 45 trades between May 2007 and June 2008 based on confidential information Hartman possessed as an employee of Orion Asset Management.

Profits from the scam were spent on a new Mini Cooper, a motorbike, holidays in Whistler and Las Vegas and a luxurious Bondi apartment.

Justice McCallum said Curtis' offer after conviction to forfeit $1.43 million from the sale of a home as reparation may be seen as "cynical" in the absence of acceptance of responsibility for his crimes.

She accepted the life circumstances of the man, who was described by character references as a devoted father, had changed since the trades were made.

But he had shown no sign "of progression beyond the self-interested pursuit of material wealth" that had prompted his offending, she said.

Ms Jacenko had asked the judge to spare her husband time in custody, saying he was a "loving husband and wonderful father" and the primary carer of their children.

Justice McCallum acknowledged the separation of families was always "gutting" but said the couple was better placed than most to deal with the change.

She also rejected a submission that damage to Curtis' career should be considered on sentencing, saying it had been acknowledged his wealthy investor father Nick Curtis would always look after him.

She did say, however, Curtis had suffered bad press and there was no evidence he had sought media attention.

"He is not to be equated with his wife in this context," she said.

Nine years ago Hartman, whose job was to execute trades on behalf of Orion, would send Curtis messages directing him to buy or sell a particular number of Contracts for Difference (CFDs) on a particular company's stock at specific times.

Curtis had bought Hartman a BlackBerry so they could communicate through a secure messaging service.

The former friends grew up in wealthy Mosman and attended the elite St Ignatius College, Riverview.

On Friday ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft welcomed Justice McCallum's decision to impose a jail sentence.

"White-collar criminals, blue-collar criminals deserve equal treatment in front of the law," he said.

Justice McCallum said Curtis' offence was slightly less serious than the conduct of Hartman, who was sentenced to a maximum 28 months in prison by the Court of Appeal.

She said prison was a strong deterrent to possible white-collar criminals before sentencing Curtis to a maximum of two years in prison, but also ordering he be released on recognisance after serving a year.