Ahmed Saad, a former financial advisor from Glenroy, Victoria, has been sentenced to jail by the County Court of Victoria for obtaining financial advantage by deception.
After being found to have provided clients with illegal early access to their superannuation funds, Saad was sentenced on November 23, 2021, to nine months’ imprisonment for one count of obtaining financial advantage by deception and one month’s imprisonment for one count of attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception.
He was also sentenced to an 18-month community correction order, including 100 hours of unpaid community work.
According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Saad was the sole director of Saad Wealth Management Pty Ltd (Saad Wealth Management). From April 10, 2012 to October 16, 2017, Saad and the company were authorised representatives of Apogee Financial Planning Limited (Apogee).
ASIC alleged that from October 2016, Saad operated a scheme in which he unlawfully gave clients early access to their superannuation funds. He submitted applications for one-off advice fees to NULIS Nominees (Australia) Limited (NULIS) as trustee for the MLC Super Fund, in which he said he had provided financial services to his clients when he had not. He would then pay these funds back to clients, facilitating unlawful early release of superannuation.
From November 11, 2016 to October 13, 2017, Saad allegedly obtained $1,531,925 from NULIS on behalf of 168 clients. Moreover, between August 11, 2017 and October 11, 2017, Saad allegedly attempted to obtain a further $92,400 on behalf of 10 clients. He indirectly benefited from the scheme by growing his client base.
Commenting on the court's ruling, ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said: “The sentence imposed demonstrates the seriousness of this misconduct. Facilitating the unlawful early release of superannuation can lead to the erosion of people's super balances, which has the potential to lead to long-term hardship. ASIC will continue to take action to protect the superannuation assets of consumers.”
Aside from Saad, former AMP financial adviser David Michael Fong and his Perth-based company Fong Financial Planners Pty Ltd (Fong Financial Planners) are also being investigated for allegedly engaging in dishonest conduct.
ASIC accused Fong, an authorised representative of AMP in 2014, and his company of acting dishonestly by completing and submitting false information in clients' insurance applications, failing to disclose fees to clients adequately, acting without client instructions, and failing to adequately disclose the effect of advice.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting the matter, listed for further mention on January 14, 2022.