SMSF property promoter and Charterhill Group director George Nowak has been sentenced to 10 years’ jail for aggravated deception and dishonest dealings with documents.
Nowak pleaded guilty during the third week of his criminal trial in the District Court of South Australia to 17 counts of aggravated deception and one count of dishonest dealings with documents following an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which led to Nowak being charged with 31 counts of deception and one count of dishonest dealings with documents.
As a result of this, he was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment with a non-parole period of six years and three months.
“The charges against Mr Nowak concerned misappropriation of $1.2 million in SMSF monies. Mr Nowak failed to hold the funds in a designated account and did not apply funds towards the intended property purchases in the period between December 2012 and December 2013,” ASIC said.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Sophie David noted the seriousness of Nowak’s offences and the impact of the fraud on the victims’ lives. David also highlighted the importance of deterrence when imposing sentences for such matters.
ASIC commissioner Danielle Press said: “Mr Nowak deliberately misled his clients and used their funds for his own benefit. Mr Nowak dishonestly and deliberately breached his clients’ trust. The court’s sentence reflects the seriousness of this conduct and the impact it had on Mr Nowak’s clients.”
In related news, ASIC has outlined its concerns regarding real estate agents providing unlicensed financial advice to tenants following the federal government’s recently announced temporary relief measures for those affected by COVID-19.
“ASIC is aware that some real estate agents are advising tenants who are unable to pay their rent, or who may find themselves in such a situation in future, to consider applying for early release of their superannuation,” it said in a letter to the real estate institutes of each state.
“Recent media reports and social media commentary outlining this conduct by some real estate agents is of significant concern to ASIC and, we would hope, you.”
It pointed out financial advice could not be provided by real estate agents who did not hold the requisite licence or were not authorised representatives of an Australian financial services licensee.
“ASIC intends to monitor this situation closely and if contraventions of the licensing requirements of the Corporations Act are found, ASIC will not hesitate to act swiftly to protect vulnerable consumers,” it added.