Former financial adviser charged over illegal access scheme
A former Victorian financial planner has been charged over dishonestly obtaining money from client super fund accounts as part of an illegal early access scheme.
Ahmed Saad, of Glenroy, Victoria, appeared in court charged with dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception for another and a further charge of attempting to obtain a financial advantage by deception for another.
ASIC alleges that, while working as an authorised representative of Apogee Financial Planning Limited (Apogee), Mr Saad operated an illegal scheme providing early access to superannuation funds for his clients.
Between 11 November 2016 and 13 October 2017, Mr Saad obtained $1,531,925 from Nulis Nominees Limited (Nulis) as trustee for the MLC Super Fund on behalf of 168 clients, according to ASIC.
“ASIC also alleges between 11 August 2017 and 11 October 2017, Mr Saad attempted to obtain a further $92,400 on behalf of 10 of his clients,” ASIC stated.
“Mr Saad submitted applications for one-off advice fees to Nulis for providing financial services to his clients.
“These services were not provided and these fees were instead rebated to his clients, facilitating unlawful early release of their superannuation benefits.”
Each offence carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years of imprisonment.
The charges follow ASIC’s permanent ban of Mr Saad, after an investigation into his conduct as an authorised representative of Apogee Financial Planning Limited and through his business, Saad Wealth Management Pty Ltd.
The ASIC investigation found that between October 2016 and September 2017, Mr Saad breached various financial services laws, including engaging in dishonest conduct on approximately 164 separate occasions by illegally obtaining funds between $1,000 and $28,000 from client superannuation accounts.
A total of $1.4 million was obtained from Nulis Nominees Australia Limited, the trustee of the MLC Super Fund, and rebated to clients.
ASIC also found that Mr Saad had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by falsifying figures and details in client statements of advice and adviser remuneration fee forms provided to Nulis and Apogee.
He also failed to act in the best interest of his clients, ASIC stated, by not providing them with appropriate advice.
Apogee and Nulis first identified large adviser fees being charged to the superannuation accounts of Mr Saad’s and Saad Wealth’s clients in March 2017 following an increase in Mr Saad’s and Saad Wealth’s revenue.
Mr Saad and Saad Wealth, of which Mr Saad was the sole director, were authorised representatives of Apogee from 10 April 2012 until 16 October 2017. In October 2017, their letter of authority was revoked by Apogee.
The matter has been adjourned to a committal mention hearing on 21 April 2021 at the Magistrates Court, Victoria.