Former financial adviser and Royal Commission witness, Sam Henderson charged with dishonesty and defective

Following an ASIC investigation, former Sydney financial adviser Sam Maxwell Henderson has been charged with three counts of dishonest conduct and two counts of giving a disclosure document knowing it to be defective. The charges relate to alleged false representations made by Mr Henderson that he had a Master of Commerce.

ASIC alleges that Mr Henderson, whilst a senior financial advisor and director of Henderson Maxwell Pty Ltd (Henderson Maxwell), engaged in dishonest conduct when he made false representations that he had a Master of Commerce:

  1. in PowerPoint presentations he gave to prospective clients from 2010 to 2016;
  2. on the Henderson Maxwell website from October 2012 to August 2016; and
  3. in Henderson Maxwell brochures distributed between 2013 and 2016 and in an Information Memorandum dated May 2011.

Each dishonest conduct offence under s1041GCorporations Act 2001 (Cth) carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to 4,500 penalty units.

ASIC also alleges that Mr Henderson breached s952D(2)(a)(ii) of the Corporations Act in 2014 and 2016 by giving at least two clients a Financial Services Guide, containing the false representation that he held a Master of Commerce (Financial Planning).

Each s952D(2)(a)(ii) Corporations Act offence carries a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 200 penalty units.

The charges follow an ASIC investigation into Henderson Maxwell and Mr Henderson after evidence of misconduct was presented in the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Financial Services Royal Commission). This investigation uncovered allegedly false representations about Mr Henderson’s qualifications made between 2010 and 2016.

Deputy Chair Daniel Crennan QC said ‘ASIC is dedicated to improving standards across the financial services industry. These charges demonstrate that ASIC will investigate allegations of breaches of the law by financial advisers when dealing with their clients, including allegations of giving inaccurate and dishonest information.’

The charges against Mr Henderson were mentioned at the Downing Centre Local Court on 9 June 2020.

Mr Henderson did not enter a plea and the matter will next come before Downing Centre Local Court on 4 August 2020.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting this matter, following a referral of a brief of evidence from ASIC.

Background

Henderson Maxwell and Mr Henderson were the subjects of a Bad Advice case study in the Financial Services Royal Commission. This conduct was considered in the Interim Report (Volume 2, p 242).

In July 2019, ASIC banned Mr Henderson from providing financial services for a period of three years (19-190MR). It was found that Mr Henderson failed to act in the best interests of his clients, provide appropriate advice and prioritise his clients’ interests when providing personal financial advice. This led to clients either losing money or being at risk of losing money.

ASIC’s Moneysmart website has useful information for consumers about choosing a financial adviser, including how to complain about a financial adviser and what to do if their adviser is banned.

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