The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has banned former director of Macquarie Agricultural Funds Management (MAFML) Timothy Hornibrook from providing financial services for six years.
The watchdog has ruled that in 2011 Hornibrook and “some members of the MAFM sales team” invented a fund manager called the Brook Family Office, and set up two email addresses associated with that name, in order to gain sensitive financial information from competitors, according to a statement from the ASIC.
Hornibrook used the fake email addresses to extract sensitive information by pretending to be assessing investment opportunities.
ASIC found that between May 2011 and March 2013 similar emails were sent to at least nine Australian and overseas competitor fund managers, requesting information on companies’ backgrounds, investment processes, fund performances and fees.
ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said in a statement that “the deceptive conduct of Mr Hornibrook was not inadvertent nor was it the result of a momentary lapse. It was committed over a number of years and was intended to gain an advantage for himself and the Macquarie business for which he was responsible.”
An ASIC delegate, the person responsible for assessing the evidence and using it to make a decision on the ban, said Hornibrook’s conduct was “extremely serious […] and that general deterrence is an important factor in this case.”
Hornibrook has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the decision.
Hornibrook was a director of MAFML between February 2010 and May 2014, when the Australian Financial Review first reported that Macquarie’s Agricultural Funds Management team had been accused of misconduct and ASIC began its investigation. A spokeswoman for ASIC said its enquiries are ongoing.
A Macquarie spokeswoman told Agri Investor: “Macquarie conducted a prompt and thorough investigation of the matter which included employees, all available correspondence and relevant external parties.
“The staff involved are no longer with Macquarie and the business has been under new leadership since June 2014. Macquarie takes its obligations to regulators and clients seriously.”