Fraudster's intentions didn't change appeal outcome
A CONVICTED fraudster with interests in numerous medical centres across Queensland and NSW has argued he did intend to deliver a 20% annual return on the $2.5 million he took from investors.
But the Queensland Court of Appeal found a jury was entitled, after hearing five days of evidence, to convict Ronald James Richardson for dishonestly taking the money in 2009.
Richardson established the Fraser Shores Medical Centre in Hervey Bay in 2002, engaging a Turkey-trained doctor to provide medical services and with the doctor eventually taking ownership.
During his trial, the court heard his suite of companies, broadly referred to as the RMC Group, similarly set up medical practices in Gympie and Biloela and in NSW.
The Australian Medical Centres, which had about 26 medical centres predominately on the Sunshine Coast, began having financial difficulties in 2009.
Richardson secured a $1 million loan, acquiring the Cooroy and Burleigh medical centres in a partial rescue package.
They operated for just six to eight weeks after acquisition and then closed due to lack of working capital.
Also in 2009, three investors put money into RMC (Cooloola) to expand the company's operations to Bribie Island, the original Fraser Coast practice and other centres.
Richardson claimed he did not pursue the acquisitions because the RMC Group collapsed and he spent his time avoiding further financial decline.
Justice John Muir said the jury was aware that investors were supposed to be paid a 20% return on funds invested for medical centres which were never established.
He said jurors also knew investor money was "speedily paid out" of the RMC (Cooloola) company account and promptly dissipated.
Justice Muir said it was obvious to the jury that Mr Richardson had given a false explanation for the money transfers.
He said it was open to the jury to accept Mr Richardson knew RMC (Cooloola) was not in a position to acquire the Fraser Shores Medical Centre at all or at a price which would allow a 20% return.
"They were entitled also to conclude (Richardson) did not intend that the money provided by investors would be used to purchase that centre," he said.
"The obvious inference was that (Richardson's) intention throughout was that monies obtained from the investors would be deployed at his discretion within the RMC Group."