David Ross denied parole: Low risk is not no risk

"Broken" David Ross faces at least another year in jail after his parole consideration was declined.

Tuesday, March 26th 2019, 11:31AM

Ross is serving a 10-year, 10-month sentence for offending which the sentencing judge described as being “on a scale unprecedented in this country".

He ran Ross Asset Management until 2012 when it was revealed to have been a Ponzi scheme. Investors lost about $115 million. Many were elderly people who had trusted Ross with their life savings.

He became eligible for parole on January 27 but needed to find a suitable property to be paroled to before the case could be considered.

His lawyer argued Ross was a low risk of further offending. There would be no future opportunity because of Ross's notoriety, his disqualification from any involvement in the financial industry, and the support which Ross continued to enjoy from some (but not all) of his immediate family and from friends.

Ross told the board that he was a broken and flawed man, that he was shunned, and that he now has no reputation to speak of.

He said that rather than re-offend in any way, he simply wanted to prepare for his retirement and rebuild his family relationships.

A psychological assessment from December noted that he told the psychologist that he would provide a detailed accounting of his offending to the parole board directly.

Ross told the board that he had been "guarded" in that interview.

"It seems that much of Mr Ross’ approach both to the process of preparing for this hearing, and indeed seeking parole, is coloured by his concern that upon his eventual release a substantial number of civil claims await him," the parole board noted in its decision.

It said he had - at best - provided a partial explanation for his offending, blaming a computer error for overstating the value of some clients' investments in 2006.

"He said that when he became aware of this error, and rather than admit it, he thought he could 'manage' his way through so as to correct the error without the necessity of disclosure, either to the clients directly involved or indeed to the appropriate regulatory bodies.

"Having initially started down that road, Mr Ross then explained that his dishonest attempt to manage and correct the error was then compounded over the months and years that followed."

Ross argued that offending before 2006, identified by charges to which he pleased guilty, was not of real substance.

He argued that because of his personal financial resources he did not need, take or accumulate any cash as a result of his offending. "When specifically asked, he denied the existence of any concealed fund to which he might have access following his release from prison, despite the scale, complexity, duration and effect of the offending."

The psychologist said Ross appeared able to deceive without apparent anxiety, "maintained by the misguided and grandiose belief in his own abilities".

The parole board noted that the psychologist assessed him as a low risk of reoffending. "But low risk is not no risk. The unprecedented and enormous scale of Mr Ross’s persistent offending, and the devastating effect it had on his many hundreds of victims (which, as noted by the sentencing Judge, ranged from middle-aged to people in their 80s and included the disabled, the frail and the ill), taken together with the extent of and complexity of Mr Ross lies and dishonesty, compel this board to the conclusion that the proposed parole conditions are insufficient to manage Mr Ross’ level of risk to the safety of the community whilst on parole.

"There is no sure foundation upon which the board could conclude that the same factors which enabled Mr Ross to lie, deceive and steal so comprehensively and for so long, throughout his years of offending, are not still present to an undue level."

Ross will be seen again in a year.

Tags: Ross Asset Management

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