PHOTO: Daniel Leslie Harris. FILE

A prison cell awaits Daniel Leslie Harris, a bankrupt real estate agent, as he begins a three-year sentence for his “misguided and arrogant” investment scheme. Harris, 47, orchestrated the fraudulent venture from 2010 until his arrest in 2018, duping investors, some of whom were acquaintances from school or connections through his wife.

Under the guise of a self-managed unit trust, Harris persuaded investors to transfer their money from superannuation funds, promising lucrative property investments. However, the unit trust was nonexistent, and despite numerous warning signs, Harris ignored the impending failure of his scheme.

The NSW District Court Judge, Leonie Flannery, highlighted Harris’s recklessness, emphasizing that he should have recognized the scheme’s futility on multiple occasions. Warning signals included the depletion of funds, the liquidation of a contracted builder in 2011, and the absence of independent accounting oversight. Despite these red flags and a caution from the corporate watchdog, Harris pressed on, leading to investors incurring losses exceeding $1.1 million.

Daniel Leslie Harris (left, file image)
Harris (left) told investors he would put their money through a unit trust but that did not exist.

During the trial, it was revealed that Harris knew his investors trusted him and lacked financial expertise. He falsely represented the existence of a unit trust, preying on the vulnerability of individuals seeking property ownership. Even when questioned about his financial qualifications, Harris admitted he had none, displaying a lack of concern.

Despite being convicted on 115 charges of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, Harris clung to a misguided belief in the scheme’s success. A psychologist cited narcissistic tendencies, characterized by arrogance and a lack of self-insight, as a partial explanation for Harris’s behavior. Judge Flannery noted Harris’s minimal acceptance of responsibility for his actions.

In sentencing, Judge Flannery imposed a five-year prison term with a non-parole period of three years. Harris, who had been on bail, is eligible for release in November 2026, marking the culmination of a downfall stemming from a flawed and deceitful investment venture.