Socialite trader charged

SYDNEY socialite Oliver Peter Curtis was charged with conspiracy to commit insider trading on Tuesday, two years after his former best friend, John Hartman, pleaded guilty to insider trading offences that led to a prison sentence.

SYDNEY socialite Oliver Peter Curtis was charged with conspiracy to commit insider trading on Tuesday, two years after his former best friend, John Hartman, pleaded guilty to insider trading offences that led to a prison sentence.

The charges relate to an alleged agreement between the two in which Curtis allegedly used Hartman's inside information about the trading intentions of his employer, Orion Asset Management.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleges that after their agreement, Mr Curtis traded on 45 separate occasions in 2007-08 making a total profit of $1 million.

According to an ASIC statement on Tuesday, Mr Curtis was granted bail "on a number of conditions" and the matter will return to court on March 26.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of five years' jail.

According to ASIC, in return for the information, Curtis allegedly shared profits with Hartman in the form of cash and "by using the funds to purchase items for Mr Hartman".

Curtis is the son of Sydney businessman Nick Curtis, a founder of Sino Resources and executive chairman of rare earths miner Lynas. He works with his father at corporate advisory company Riverstone.

Hartman, the son of prominent Sydney obstetrician Keith Hartman, was sentenced to three years' imprisonment after pleading guilty to related, and unrelated, insider trading offences in 2010.

Hartman, who had previously enjoyed luxury cars and gambling trips to Las Vegas, was sent to jail in a form of protective custody for volunteering to give evidence against Curtis.

In sentencing Hartman, Justice Peter McClellan wrote plainly about Curtis' involvement in receiving inside information, then trading in a financial product called contracts for difference.

"[Hartman] communicated this inside information for the purpose of Mr Curtis using the information to acquire and thereafter dispose of . . . CFDs [contracts for difference]," Justice McClellan wrote.

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