Disgraced insurance broker to avoid jail

An insurance broker who used the identities of clients to fraudulently swindle more than $1.5 million in loans will not have to serve any of a six-year prison sentence because of his declining health.

ASIC permanently banned Christopher John Griggs from providing financial services in November 2016. He was the sole director of Chris Griggs Insurance Offices Pty Ltd, an insurance broker based in Mount Pleasant, South Australia.

The regulator found that Griggs prepared and submitted applications for insurance premium loan funding to Elantis Premium Funding Limited without the authority or knowledge of the named applicants and forged the signatures of the alleged applicants. Approved loan funds were then paid into a bank account controlled by Griggs and applied to his benefit.

By the end of the almost four year scheme, Griggs had received more than $1.5 million. He was arrested and charged on September 21, 2015.

A lawyer for Griggs, 66, successfully argued that the broker was not fit to stand trial because of his advanced dementia. Instead the lawyer and the prosecution agreed on the basic facts of Griggs’ offending and he pleaded guilty in the District Court to 17 counts of misusing personal identification information and 66 counts of aggravated dishonestly dealing with documents.

The court also heard that the $1,567,893.43 that Griggs stole over almost four years was unaccounted for.  The extensive theft only came to light in June 2015 when detectives from the Major Fraud Investigation Section probed his dealings.

Judge Stretton described the offending as a “single, very serious, ongoing course of conduct” and set a head sentence of six years. However, because of Griggs’ declining mental health, Judge Stretton released him on licence into the community under the supervision of several government and community agencies.