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Australian Royal Commission witness pleads guilty to dishonesty

Chris Hamblin, Editor, London, 31 August 2020

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Sam Maxwell Henderson, a former financial advisor from Sydney, has pled guilty to one ‘rolled up’ charge of dishonest conduct, an offence under section 1041G Corporations Act 2001, and two counts of making a disclosure document available to a person knowing it to be defective, contrary to section 952D(2)(a)(ii).

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleged that Henderson, between 1 July 2010 and November 2017 when he was the chief executive officer, director and senior financial advisor at Henderson Maxwell Pty Ltd, engaged in dishonest conduct when he made false representations that he was a Master of Commerce (Financial Planning) when in fact he did not hold that qualification. He did so in 115 PowerPoint presentations to prospective clients, he did so on the company website and he did so in brochures.

A "dishonest conduct" offence under s1041G Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) carries a maximum penalty in the local court of two years’ imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 120 penalty units, or both.

ASIC also alleged Henderson broke s952D(2)(a)(ii) in 2014 and 2016 by giving two clients a Financial Services Guide that contained the same false representation that he was a Master of Commerce.

Each "defective disclosure" offence under s952D(2)(a)(ii) Corporations Act carries a maximum penalty in the local court of 12 months’ imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 60 penalty units, or both.

He will be sentenced in the Downing Centre Local Court on 13 October. The prosecutor was the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, backed by ASIC.
Background

Henderson Maxwell and Henderson himself were the subjects of a case study featuring bad advice in the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry - see Volume 2 (p 242) of the Final Report.

In July 2019, ASIC banned Henderson from providing financial services for a period of three years because he allegedly failed to act in the best interests of his clients.

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