Insider trader Oliver Curtis and his wife Roxy Jacenko arrive at the NSW Supreme Court on Friday. Photo: Daniel Munoz Oliver Curtis’ wife Roxy Jacenko leaves court after her husband was jailed. Photo: Daniel Munoz
Insider trader Oliver Curtis is escorted to a prison truck after being sentenced to two years in jail. Photo: Daniel Munoz
Verdict: Oliver Curtis guilty of insider tradingCurtis pleads for non-custodial sentence
A drawn Oliver Curtis took off his wedding ring and tie, and hugged and kissed his tearful wife Roxy Jacenko goodbye, before being led away by corrective services officers on Friday to begin a year-long stint in jail for conspiracy to commit insider trading.
The 30-year-old son of Nick Curtis, former Macquarie banker and resources millionaire, appeared resigned to his fate as Supreme Court Justice Lucy McCallum sentenced him to a maximum of two years in prison, to be released after one year on a good behaviour bond.
Curtis must have known what he was doing was “very wrong” but believed he could “avoid getting caught”, Justice McCallum said in a strongly-worded judgment delivered in the historic St James Supreme Court in Sydney.
He had used the proceeds of an illegal deal with his former best friend John Hartman, son of prominent north shore obstetrician Keith, to cash in on inside information to “fund a lifestyle of conspicuous extravagance”.
The sentence marks the latest chapter in a peculiarly Sydney tale of greed and privilege.
The court heard the old boys of St Ignatius’ College, Riverview, then aged in their early 20s, made $1.43 million in a year using confidential information acquired by Mr Hartman during his job as an equities dealer at boutique firm Orion Asset Management to bet on shifts in share prices.
Mr Hartman, the Crown’s star witness, has already served 15 months behind bars after confessing to a string of insider trading offences, a small number of which related to the tips he passed on to Curtis.
“It is troubling that, unlike Mr Hartman, Mr Curtis has not embraced responsibility for his offending,” Justice McCallum said.
Curtis, who was working at boutique investment bank Transocean Group at the time of the offences in 2007 and 2008, had expressed “no contrition to any degree whatsoever” until after the jury found him guilty on June 2.
“While many people have spoken of his positive qualities in business and as a family man, he shows no sign of progression beyond the self-interested pursuit of material wealth which prompted his offending,” Justice McCallum said.
After the sentence was read out, Curtis gave his family in the packed public gallery a small smile and took off his tie, belt, watch and wedding ring.
A wad of cash was removed from his wallet and handed to Ms Jacenko, founder of PR firm Sweaty Betty.
He embraced Ms Jacenko and kissed her three times before he was taken down to the cells underneath the court.
Justice McCallum said a prison sentence had “real bite” as a deterrent in white collar crime cases and the court must be at pains not to treat classes of offending unequally.
Such crimes were not victimless and the offending in this case “saw superannuation funds competing with twenty-year-olds using inside information to pay for a skiing holiday”, she said in a reference to just one of the luxury expenses racked up by Curtis and Mr Hartman.
The co-operation of Mr Hartman with authorities stood in stark contrast to the conduct of Curtis, Justice McCallum said, although his sentence should not be increased on that basis.
She added Mr Hartman had “endured a wholesale, public attack on his character with the patient resignation of a man who had come to terms with the obloquy his past conduct deserved”.
But Justice McCallum said Curtis’ culpability was less than that of Mr Hartman, because he was not the insider with access to confidential information even though he was “complicit” in his friend’s breach of trust.
Curtis’ barrister, Murugan Thangaraj, SC, had urged the court to impose a non-custodial sentence.
Justice McCallum rejected his suggestion that Curtis’ loss of career should be taken into account.
As to the intense media scrutiny surrounding the case, Justice McCallum said it had not all been negative and not all of it directed to Curtis.
“There is no evidence that Mr Curtis himself has invited media attention; he is not to be equated with his wife in this context,” Justice McCallum said in a nod to Ms Jacenko’s social media profile.
But Justice McCallum said he had received “more than his share of bad press”, including a “small number of extremely nasty remarks” on social media, and she had “given some small weight to that consideration”.
In an aside on social media commentary, Justice McCallum said it was an irony that after “centuries of relative civility” recent technological advances had allowed an “explosion of dissemination of medieval attitudes”.
In an impassioned reference in support of her husband, tendered in court, Ms Jacenko said she had “no doubt” Curtis would never offend again.
“There has never been a moment that I have had any doubt about his integrity or morals. Oli is a kind, considerate, honest and reliable man,” Ms Jacenko wrote.
The maximum penalty was five years in prison, a $220,000 fine, or both.