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19-031MR Queensland lawyer pleads guilty to giving false or misleading information to ASIC
Mary-Anne Greaves, of Mount Sheridan, Queensland, has pleaded guilty before the Brisbane Magistrates’ Court to one count of giving false or misleading information to ASIC.
The examination of Ms Greaves, a former lawyer, was part of an investigation conducted by ASIC into a 2015 takeover bid by G8 Education Limited (G8 Education) for ASX-listed Affinity Education Group Limited (Affinity). The investigation included enquiries into alleged undisclosed arrangements between G8 Education and West Bridge Holdings Pty Ltd (West Bridge) for the acquisition of Affinity shares as part of the takeover bid.
The charge related to Greaves’ false denial, on 2 June 2016, during an ASIC examination under oath, that she had not been provided information relating to the acquisition by West Bridge of Affinity shares at the time of the takeover bid by G8 Education.
The matter has been listed for a sentencing hearing before the Brisbane Magistrates’ Court on 24 May 2019.
The matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
G8 Education is a childcare provider listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
In July 2015, G8 Education announced a takeover bid for Affinity after acquiring shares in that company up to the takeover threshold. Following that announcement, West Bridge acquired 11,300,000 Affinity shares between 13 and 28 July 2015.
On 5 October 2015, the Takeovers Panel made a declaration of unacceptable circumstances in relation to G8’s takeover bid. As part of that declaration, the Panel found that there was an undisclosed association between G8 Education and West Bridge in the acquisition of Affinity shares.
When tried on indictment, the maximum penalty for a charge under section 64(1) is two years imprisonment, 100 penalty units, or both. Where, as in this case, the offence is to be heard and determined by the Magistrates’ Court, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 12 months, a fine of 60 penalty units or both by reason of section 4J of the Crimes Act 1914.
On 15 March 2019, the Brisbane Magistrates’ Court ordered that the sentencing hearing be re-listed to 17 June 2019.