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18-208MR Wodonga financial planner pleads guilty to vote rigging
Mr Neil John Evans, 57, of Wodonga, Victoria, has appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to one charge relating to vote-rigging in the director elections for WAW Credit Union Co-Operative Limited (WAW). Mr Evans’ guilty plea followed an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Between 4 November 2015 and 18 November 2015, WAW conducted elections to fill two vacant board positions. The voting took place electronically, with WAW members using their personal details to gain access to an online portal to cast votes.
In an agreed summary of facts tendered to the Court, Mr Evans, a financial planner, admitted he misused the personal details of not less than 499 WAW members to gain access to the online voting portal and cast ballots in the election for two candidates without the authorisation of those members.
The consequences of Mr Evans’ voting was that one person was improperly elected to the WAW board and another person who should have been elected was not.
The Court found proven that Mr Evans had committed the offence of causing unauthorised modification to data held in a computer contrary to section 247C of the Victorian Crimes Act.
The Court placed Mr Evans on a 12-month good behaviour bond, conditional upon him paying $12,000 into the court fund and prohibiting him from providing financial advice to WAW customers for the duration of the bond.
ASIC Commissioner John Price said, ‘The ability of shareholders to electdirectors to company boards is a fundamental shareholder right. ASIC will take action where people engage in conduct that affects such shareholder rights and interferes with the integrity of such elections.'
The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
ASIC’s investigation into the conduct of the election is ongoing
WAW is an unlisted public company that operates as a credit union, with its head office located in Wodonga, Victoria and servicing the geographic areas of North East Victoria and Southern New South Wales.
All WAW deposit account customers are also shareholders and entitled to vote in board elections.
During the November 2015 WAW board election, four candidates - Timothy Frazer, David Iverson, Ali Pockley and Tracey Toohey - stood for two vacant board positions. Following the election, Mr Frazer and Mr Iverson were declared the successful candidates and appointed to the WAW board.
In the absence of the votes that were cast by Mr Evans, Mr Frazer would not have been elected to the WAW board while Ms Toohey would have been elected.