ASIC has permanently banned Queensland financial adviser Mr Damian O'Rourke, of Brisbane, from providing financial services after an investigation found he failed to provide appropriate advice, failed to provide clients with statements of advice and borrowed significant sums of money from clients, most of which were not repaid.
Mr O'Rourke was employed as a representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd (AMP) from 1983 until 10 April 2014.
ASIC found that Mr O'Rourke had failed to comply with key requirements of the Corporations Act, in that he:
- failed to provide a statement of advice to 31 clients when he advised them to apply for income protection insurance, life insurance, trauma insurance and/or total and permanent disability insurance (insurance) as a new product, or to replace an existing insurance product;
- failed to make reasonable inquiries in relation to a client and failed to provide that client with appropriate advice when he provided that client with advice in relation to insurance and superannuation products in September 2012; and
- failed to act in the best interests of a client in relation to insurance and superannuation product advice he provided in November 2013 and failed to give priority to that client's best interests over his own.
ASIC also found reason to believe that Mr O'Rourke was not of good fame and character as he borrowed over $2 million from clients and others in the circumstances where:
- only approximately 10% of the total amount loaned was repaid;
- he did not ensure clients were provided with independent legal and financial advice;
- he did not document all of the loans; and
- he sought loans from clients when he knew he had not repaid earlier loans.
ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said, 'Financial advisers must act in the best interests of their clients. ASIC will take action against financial advisers who do not comply with their obligations.'
Mr O'Rourke has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.
This outcome is a result of ASIC's Wealth Management Project. The Wealth Management Project was established in October 2014 with the objective of lifting standards by major financial advice providers. The Wealth Management Project focuses on the conduct of the largest financial advice firms (NAB, Westpac, CBA, ANZ, Macquarie and AMP).
ASIC's work in the Wealth Management Project covers a number of areas including:
- working with the largest financial advice firms to address the identification and remediation of non-compliant advice;
- seeking regulatory outcomes, where appropriate, against licensees and advisers. For example, as part of its Wealth Management Project, ASIC has banned the following advisers from the financial services industry, in addition to Mr O'Rourke:
- Rommel Panganiban (16-309MR)
- Anthony Jason Sourris (16-270MR)
- Sarah Kate Gardner (16-269MR)
- Nicholas Kerr (16-260MR)
- Craig Scott Miller (16-239MR)
- Wayne Meadth (16-188MR)
- Hardik Bhimani (refer: 16-124MR)
- Gerard McCormack (refer: 16-059MR)
- Shane Thompson (refer:16-022MR)
- Ben Rickman (refer:16-006MR)
- Ben Cheung (refer: 16-004MR)
- Mark Tidbury (refer: 15-383MR)
- Amanda Ritchie (refer: 15-294MR)
- Stuart Murray Jamieson (refer:15-288MR)
- Sharnie Kent (refer: 15-286MR)
- Alfie Chong (refer: 15-259MR)
- Martin Hodgetts (refer: 15-218MR)
- Shawn Hickman (refer: 15-213MR)
- Brett O'Malley (refer: 15-121MR)
- Brian Farber (refer: 15-178MR), and
- Rebecca Locksley (refer: 15-070MR).