© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

It's no more than a slap on the wrist.

Connor Haley
christchurch court2
Paul Clifford Hibbs was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment after defrauding clients of $17.5 million.  Jack Loader

Victims of a Ponzi scheme worth no less than $17.5 million are upset at what they see as a minimal sentence given to the man behind it.

A Christchurch man who admitted to a 17 and a half-million dollar ponzi scheme was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment with a minimum non parole period of 4 years. 

49 year old Paul Clifford Hibbs pleaded guilty to nine charges of theft, two of forgery and three of using forged documents.

Outside the court after the sentencing, investors said the sentence was “a slap on the wrist” and Hibbs should have got more.  One went as far to say he would be waiting at the door when he gets out.

Hibbs an ex-banker, took money from his clients promising to invest it for them. For eight years he deceived his 16 clients by covering the fact his business was in ruins. 

It's unclear where most of the money went but the court was told some was spent in Australia which meant there was no chance the victims would ever see their investments again.

Judge Saunders summed up the case in the words of William Shakespeare quoting "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."