Royal Commission witness and former financial adviser Sam Henderson pleads guilty to dishonesty and defective

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

ASIC alleged that Mr Henderson, between 1 July 2010 and November 2017, whilst the chief executive officer, director and senior financial adviser of Henderson Maxwell Pty Ltd (Henderson Maxwell), engaged in dishonest conduct when he made false representations that he had a Master of Commerce when he did not hold that qualification:

  1. in 115 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 2017 and in an Information Memorandum dated May 2011 (20-130MR).

A dishonest conduct offence under s1041G of the 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 Mr Henderson breached s952D(2)(a)(ii) in 2014 and 2016 by giving two clients a Financial Services Guide, containing the false representation that he held a Master of Commerce (Financial Planning).

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.

In addition to the above, ASIC alleged that Mr Henderson made the false representation that he held a Master of Commerce in:

  1. a book titled ‘One-Page Financial Plan: Everything you need to successfully manage your money and invest for wealth creation’ authored by Mr Henderson and published in 2013;
  2. an interview conducted by a freelance writer, and a subsequent marketing profile prepared on Mr Henderson to promote the Sydney Graduate School of Management (SGSM) Master of Commerce (Financial Planning) course; and
  3. some of Mr Henderson’s professional biographies and descriptions.

Mr Henderson will be sentenced in the Downing Centre Local Court on 13 October 2020.

The matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, 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 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 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.

Moneysmart.gov.au 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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