On 13 December 2022, former financial adviser Rahul Goel was sentenced in the Perth District Court for dishonestly obtaining over $35,000 from his clients’ superannuation accounts.
Mr Goel was sentenced to three years in prison, to be released after 18 months upon entering a $5000 recognisance to be of good behaviour for two years.
An ASIC investigation identified that after obtaining First Nations consumers’ superannuation details, Mr Goel submitted falsified benefit access applications or hardship applications to the superannuation funds.
These applications were made in the members’ names, without their specific consent and contained Mr Goel’s own or associates’ bank account details as the payment destination. Mr Goel also provided false contact details on the forms , including his own phone number and address, and created false email accounts in the members’ names, to communicate directly with their superannuation funds.
Mr Goel also impersonated his clients over the telephone when communicating with their superannuation funds. After funds were successfully released into the bank accounts, Mr Goel retained up to 100 per cent of the pay out in fees before forwarding the balance to the consumers.
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ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said, ‘ASIC was particularly concerned by Mr Goel’s conduct, which had many characteristics of a scam and a direct and adverse impact on First Nations consumers. ASIC will continue to prioritise its enforcement work in this area.’
In sentencing, his Honour Justice Levy said Mr Goel’s conduct involved ‘deliberate and calculated acts of deceit’ and constituted ‘a significant breach of trust.’
Mr Goel had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of dishonest conduct contrary to section 1041G of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). Mr Goel’s pleas of guilty were taken into account by the Judge when handing down sentence.
The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions following a referral from ASIC.
ASIC reminds First Nations consumers to be alert to any person seeking to access their superannuation on their behalf, and to contact ASIC’s Indigenous Helpline on 1300 365 957 if they are concerned about anyone attempting to do so.