Start-up 'pioneer' and crypto investor is JAILED over $2million con

Start-up ‘pioneer’ and crypto investor who partly owned a European soccer team is JAILED for ripping off company in $2million con

  • Self-proclaimed start-up pioneer Abdul Helou jailed over $2million fraud 
  • Elaborate corporate fraud perpetrated against Queensland business PMFA
  • Helou given a 16-month sentence with a non-parole period of eight months
  • Court heard Helou committed fraud after Covid impacted his property business 

A Sydney businessman has been jailed after defrauding a Queensland printing business of more than $2million through shell companies and fake directorships.

Self-proclaimed start-up pioneer and cryptocurrency investor Abdul Helou, 38, was sentenced to a maximum of 16 months in jail on Wednesday after pleading guilty to his role in the scheme.

Magistrate James Viney imposed the sentence, which includes an eight-month non-parole period, after finding Helou had helped James Leon in defrauding Queensland business PMFA out of more than $2million.

Abdul Helou (pictured) has been jailed for his part in an elaborate fraud of Queensland printing company PMFA

‘There is no doubt in my mind the sheer amount of money that was paid out by PMFA … makes these offences very serious,’ the magistrate said.

An investigation into Mr Leon is still underway.

The scheme, which took place over six months in late 2020 and early 2021, used shell companies to make fraudulent lease applications and listed employees as directors of these firms without their knowledge, the court found.

The fraud was sophisticated, involving a great degree of planning, Mr Viney said.

Helou, whose wife wept and hugged him before he was escorted from Parramatta Local Court by police officers, was paid 10 per cent of the funds illegally obtained from PMFA.

The vast majority of the $2 million has yet to be repaid to PMFA, which has recovered $32,000 so far.

Helou is an investor in crypto currency and also owns a property group

The court earlier heard that Helou had attempted but failed to procure a further $840,000 through the scheme.

Helou, who owns his own property business AI Development Group, was pushed into committing fraud after the Covid-19 pandemic impacted his firm and caused him to suffer PTSD and depression.

‘This was the motivation for being involved in the fraudulent acts that defrauded the victim company,’ Mr Viney said.

In imposing the sentence, the magistrate took into account an apology from Helou who said he regretted his actions.

The fraud was out of character for Helou, the magistrate acknowledged.

However, he rejected a bid by Helou’s solicitor Sam Abbas for an intensive corrections order.

Helou also owned a 32 per cent stake in Spanish soccer club Rayo Vallecano

‘The seriousness of his actions in perpetrating the fraud in my mind require a full-time custodial sentence,’ Mr Viney said.

The sentence has been backdated by two months due to time Helou has already spent in custody before he was granted bail.

If granted parole, he will walk free on January 19 next year. 

His full jail term will conclude on September 9, 2023.

‘Abdul is a pioneer in identifying, investing and cultivating the emerging technologies and startups that will define our economy’s next generation,’ he wrote.

He also reportedly owned 32 per cent of Spanish soccer club Rayo Vallecano and unsuccessfully tried to buy the Central Coast Mariners A-League club last year.

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