NSW man, Michael Boyle was convicted for knowingly providing false or misleading information in the course of a compulsory interview as part of an investigation conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The interview was in relation to a consumer product ‘the SensaSlim Solution’—an oral spray promoted as being an appetite suppressant through the company SensaSlim Australia Pty Ltd (SensaSlim).
At SensaSlim’s launch in February 2010, Peter Foster introduced Mr Boyle as a director to two persons who were potentially interested in buying into the SensaSlim franchise system. By July 2010, Mr Boyle knew that documents prepared for prospective franchisees referred to him as the ‘Senior Director’ of SensaSlim, though later that year, on 2 December 2010, Mr Boyle resigned as a director from the company.
In March 2011, the ACCC commenced an investigation into SensaSlim. The ACCC’s investigation resulted in a civil action against SensaSlim whereby it was found to have engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by failing to disclose Mr Foster’s involvement and to have made false representations about the role of SensaSlim’s officers, the ‘worldwide clinical trial’ of the SensaSlim Solution and the earning potential of SensaSlim franchises. Mr Foster, Mr Boyle and Peter O’Brien were also found to be knowingly concerned in and party to some of SensaSlim’s contraventions. The ACCC’s investigation also resulted in a successful prosecution of Mr Foster for contempt of earlier Federal Court orders by reason of Mr Foster’s involvement in SensaSlim.
On 20 June 2011, in purported compliance with a notice issued under section 155(1)(c) of the Competition & Consumer Act 2010, Mr Boyle gave false or misleading evidence to the ACCC. The essence of the false evidence charge against Mr Boyle is his denial that Mr Foster was involved in SensaSlim in circumstances where Mr Boyle knew that Mr Foster was the driving force behind SensaSlim and intricately involved in the business. Mr Boyle admitted as such when he later attended an interview with ACCC investigators.
Justice Rangiah noted that Mr Boyle was 35 years of age with no criminal history and was well regarded by friends, family and associates before his involvement with SensaSlim. Justice Rangiah took into account the fact that Mr Boyle had cooperated with the ACCC, though there was a need for general deterrence and the giving of false evidence undermines the administration of justice.
On 8 September 2015, Mr Boyle was convicted in the Brisbane Federal Court of the following charge committed on 20 June 2011:
- two counts of knowingly providing false or misleading information under section 155(5)(b) of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010
Mr Boyle was convicted and fined $3,500 to be paid within 3 months in default 2 months imprisonment.