Former adviser sentenced for dishonest conduct
A former adviser has been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for misappropriating over $1.8 million in client funds, including funds held in SMSFs.
Graeme Walter Miller, a former financial adviser and director of Australian financial services licensee CFS Private Wealth Pty Ltd, was sentenced on 31 July 2020 to six years’ imprisonment for misappropriating $1.865 million of client funds, following an ASIC investigation.
On 14 April 2020, Mr Miller pleaded guilty to six counts of engaging in dishonest conduct in the course of carrying on a financial services business, contrary to section 1041G of the Corporations Act 2001.
In a public announcement, ASIC said the charges relate to ten clients from whom Mr Miller encouraged or facilitated the transfer of between $50,000 and $950,000 by way of an investment for the benefit of the client.
“Mr Miller then misappropriated those funds for his own purposes. Four counts relate to funds invested with Mr Miller through self-managed superannuation funds held by the clients,” the Corporate Regulator stated.
Acting Judge Woods of the Downing Centre District Court sentenced Mr Miller to six years’ imprisonment, to be eligible for parole after serving four years.
In sentencing Mr Miller, Judge Woods described Mr Miller’s conduct as a “Ponzi scheme” involving a “significant breach of trust” and a “cruel and deceitful betrayal inevitably leading to financial disaster”.
Judge Woods also made reparation orders of approximately $1.777 million in favour of the ten clients who were the subject of the charges against Mr Miller.
Following the sentencing, ASIC Deputy Chair Daniel Crennan QC said Mr Miller has been found to have systematically breached the trust of his clients over a long period, resulting in significant losses.
“As a financial adviser Mr Miller ought to have protected the interests of his clients. His sentencing should send a strong message that such conduct will lead to individuals involved being brought before the court to face criminal charges,” said Mr Miller.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions prosecuted the matter after a referral from ASIC.
Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.
Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates. Miranda has also directed SMSF Adviser's print publication for several years.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.