The Federal Court in Brisbane has convicted Mr Michael Anthony Boyle of knowingly giving false or misleading evidence to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about his knowledge of Peter Foster’s involvement in Sensaslim Australia Pty Ltd (in liquidation) (Sensaslim).
Mr Boyle pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching section 155(5) of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) and the Court imposed a $3,500 fine.
“Section 155 powers are an important part of the ACCC’s capacity to investigate matters and the ACCC takes non-compliance with its section 155 notices extremely seriously,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
In 2011, the ACCC issued a compulsory notice under section 155(1)(c) of the CCA requiring Mr Boyle to appear before the Commission to give evidence.
This notice was issued as part of the ACCC’s investigation into misleading and deceptive conduct and false representations relating to the identity of Sensaslim officers, the Sensaslim product and the business opportunity offered by Sensaslim.
The investigation culminated in successful civil proceedings against Sensaslim and several individuals, including Mr Peter Foster and Mr Boyle, and contempt proceedings against Mr Foster.
At the examination of Mr Boyle pursuant to the section 155 notice, he knowingly gave false or misleading evidence about his knowledge of Peter Foster’s involvement with Sensaslim. Mr Foster’s involvement was a key matter in the allegations being investigated and ultimately pursued.
Section 155 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 gives the ACCC the power to require a person to provide information, documents and/or give oral evidence at an examination.
Failing to comply with section 155, including if a person knowingly gives false or misleading evidence in a section 155(1)(c) examination, is a criminal offence. The current penalties that can be imposed are a fine of up to $3,600 or up to 12 months’ imprisonment. The penalties applicable at the time of Mr Boyle’s offence in 2011 were a fine of up to $2,200 or up to 12 months imprisonment.