ASIC has just announced that former Sydney financial adviser, Randwick-based Ms Susan Heathwood, has been sentenced to nineteen months imprisonment and twenty two months imprisonment respectively after pleading guilty to two charges brought by ASIC.
However, the two prison sentences have been wholly suspended after Heathwood agreed to enter into a two-year good behaviour bond of $1,000.
Heathwood's cooperation with ASIC investigators and her early guilty plea also contributed to the Downing Centre District Court’s decision to suspend the sentences. She had pleaded guilty on 26 June 2012 to two counts of dishonest conduct in relation to financial services.
ASIC’s investigation found that between August 2009 and May 2011, Ms Heathwood – who was an authorised representative of GuardianFP and an employee of Jalee Consulting Group Pty Ltd – falsified 65 insurance applications that led to her collecting over $380,000 in commissions.
The names appearing on the false applications were mostly Heathwood’s current or former clients, whose personal details were changed so they could not be identified.
These clients had never requested for insurance to be arranged on their behalf, yet Heathwood used their intimate details – such as smoker status, height, weight, the number of alcoholic drinks they consumed per week and occupation – on the fake applications.
Heathwood deflected attention away from her clients by redirecting any mail to her personal PO box, and using either her or her children's telephone number as a point of contact in the applications.
She received $380,897 in commissions from policies associated with the false insurance applications. The insurance companies managed to reclaim $326,207 in the form of writebacks
According to ASIC’s case, Heathwood made $49,275 in premium payments for a number of the policies in an attempt to hide her conduct.
She could have recieved a maximum penalty of imprisonment for five years, a $22,000 fine, or both, for her first offence. The second offence could have seen her jailed for 10 years, face a $450,000 fine, or both.
She was permanently banned from providing financial services earlier this year in March.
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