Two-time bankrupt West Australian man convicted and fined

A West Australian man, Sean Colville Niven, was convicted and fined in the Perth Magistrates Court after he pleaded guilty to two charges under Commonwealth bankruptcy law.

The most serious of the two charges carried a maximum penalty of up to five years imprisonment.

Mr Niven voluntarily entered bankruptcy in June 2016 after amassing debts of nearly $2.4 million. When entering bankruptcy, individuals are required by law to accurately and truthfully complete and submit a Statement of Affairs to the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA).

Mr Niven failed to disclose that he held an overseas bank account with HSBC in his Statement of Affairs. He also failed to declare that he had previously been bankrupt and that he had been the director of several companies.

Shortly after Mr Niven became bankrupt he withdrew over $50,000 from the undeclared HSBC account. When later advised by his bankruptcy trustee that he was required to repay the money, Mr Niven advised he had spent the money. Mr Niven has not repaid the funds. He was discharged from his bankruptcy on 8 June 2019.

In sentencing, Magistrate Young stated that bankruptcy laws are reliant on people being truthful, breaches can be difficult to detect and as a result general deterrence is an important factor in bankruptcy prosecutions. In light of all factors, including Mr Niven’s guilty plea, Magistrate Young imposed a fine for both charges.

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The matter was prosecuted on behalf of AFSA by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Charges and sentences under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth)

Mr Niven was convicted of two charges under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth):

  • Charge One: Section 267(2) make a false declaration in the Statement of Affairs

  • Charge Two: Section 266(1) disposed of property within 12 months immediately after bankruptcy intending to defraud creditors

Mr Niven was fined a total of $7,000.