Former CEO of failed stockbroker BBY charged

10 October 2023
| By Laura Dew |
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The former chief executive of failed stockbroker BBY has been charged with aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring fraud. 

Arunesh Narain Maharaj of Sydney, New South Wales, has been charged in Downing Centre Local Court, Sydney with two counts contrary to sections 192E(1)(b) and 346 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Each offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

ASIC alleges that Maharaj aided, abetted, counselled or procured offences by another former BBY employee, who, by deception, dishonestly obtained a financial advantage for BBY from St George Bank, a division of Westpac Banking Corporation. 

The financial advantage was obtaining additional funding by way of improperly drawing down on an overdraft facilitation account which BBY held with St George Bank which BBY was not entitled to.

BBY was a former stockbroker and financial services business that was placed into voluntary administration on 17 May 2015 and in liquidation on 22 June 2015. 

The collapse was the largest Australian stockbroking failure since the Global Financial Crisis with 6,000 former clients claiming $62 million against client assets. BBY held assets in, among others, client segregated accounts, futures contracts and options, exchange-traded options, and products offered via Saxo Capital Markets.

Its Australian financial services licence was suspended by ASIC in May 2015 and remained in place until the licence was cancelled in June 2021. 

ASIC’s investigation is ongoing.

The matter was adjourned for further mention on 5 December 2023 and is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

The former head of operations at BBY, Fiona Mae Bilton, was sentenced in June 2023 after pleading guilty to three counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage.

The court sentenced her to imprisonment of 20 months, which was suspended for three years on the first charge. It imposed a community correction order for three and a half years on the second and third charges, including 380 hours of unpaid community work.

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