Court orders retrial for former SMSF adviser
The Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Queensland has set aside the convictions of former adviser Ben Jayaweera and ordered a new trial.
The Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Queensland has delivered its decision regarding an appeal against conviction and sentence brought by Ben Jayaweera, a former financial adviser and director of Growth Plus Financial Group Pty Ltd, which is currently in liquidation.
Mr Jayaweera was previously convicted of six charges of dishonestly causing detriment to clients, involving approximately $5.9 million. He was previously sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, with a minimum period of six years to be served before becoming eligible for parole.
He was charged with the six counts of fraud in May 2018 following allegations by ASIC that between September 2013 to October 2015, Mr Jayaweer — through his company Growth Plus Financial Group Pty Ltd — induced various investors to transfer funds, including funds from SMSFs, for investment into an unregistered managed investment scheme known as the Australian Diversified Sector Income Fund (ADSIF).
ASIC also alleged Mr Jayaweera invested some clients’ superannuation funds into ADSIF without the clients’ knowledge or permission.
The Court of Appeal has now allowed an appeal against the convictions and sentence on grounds including that deficiencies in the trial judge’s directions to the jury resulted in a miscarriage of justice.
A new trial was ordered on all six counts and Mr Jayaweera’s convictions were set aside.
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 also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.