A Sydney businesswoman has escaped a jail sentence despite being convicted of a $3.6 million home loan fraud.
Following an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Shashi Kanta Prasad was convicted in the New South Wales District Court of creating false loan documents in an attempt to secure home loans totalling more than $3.6 million.
According to ASIC, the fraud resulted in Prasad receiving upfront and ongoing commission payments for her employer of more than $11,000 between February 2008 and March 2011.
Prasad was employed by Raj Prasad & Co, which trades as Premium Financial and Retirement Solutions.
Prasad pleaded guilty in July to making seven false statements as well as 41 fake documents and instruments, and then using those documents and instruments with the intention to obtain a financial advantage for her employer in the form of commissions.
She faced up to 10 years in prison for two charges relating to using false documents or instruments, and up to five years in prison for offences relating to obtaining a financial advantage by false or misleading statements and having an intention to defraud by false or misleading statement.
However, the court only handed Prasad an 18-month good behaviour bond, noting her full cooperation with ASIC as a significant factor in the judgement.
“This case illustrates the potential benefits available to those who provide full and timely cooperation to ASIC and plead guilty to their offending at the earliest opportunity,” said ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell in a statement.
“ASIC will continue to pursue those who engage in this type of conduct, but it is also our policy to encourage and recognise cooperation from those we investigate.”
Brett Warfield chief executive of forensic accounting firm Warfield & Associates, told SmartCompany the court would have considered how much financial gain Prasad actually received from the transactions when determining her sentencing.
“Cooperating with the investigation is another thing the court will take into account when looking at sentencing,” says Warfield, who says it is important for businesses and employees to cooperate with investigations by the corporate regular as early on in the process as possible.
“It will take less time and not as many resources will be used in the case,” he says.
SmartCompany contacted Premium Financial and Retirement Solutions but did not receive a response prior to publication.