ASIC has permanently banned Mr David Mario Alafaci, of Morphett Vale, South Australia from providing financial services on the basis that he is not of good fame or character.
The corporate regulator has launched a major investigation into hundreds of funds in a bid to uncover unlicensed SMSF advice.
As reported by ifa sister publication SMSF Adviser earlier this year, ASIC is currently conducting a major shadow shopping exercise, and has now started contacting various SMSF professionals to collate data on the set-up process of hundreds of funds, as part of a massive research project set for release later this year.
In emails seen by SMSF Adviser, it is clear ASIC has selected several hundred funds that were set up in September 2016 for random investigation, and is contacting tax agents associated with the funds.
ASIC is asking if the clients of the tax agents received any professional advice about establishing their SMSF and, if so, that the contact details are passed on.
While ASIC is gathering details about both financial advisers and accountants as part of this project, it is understood that broadly, unlicensed accountants in particular are on the regulatory radar.
The information supplied to ASIC is treated as anonymous, but the general findings will be published in a report slated for the second half of this year, an ASIC spokesperson told SMSF Adviser.
ASIC could not outline any further details of the investigation, except to confirm that it is pursuing its “major” shadow shop as announced in February, and will be looking at random samples of SMSF advice.
Despite being relatively lax in the past to instances of accountants operating outside of the accountants’ exemption in particular, BDO’s national leader for superannuation Shirley Schaefer suggested ASIC will be taking no prisoners this time around.
“I suspect a lot of accountants have sat outside the accountants’ exemption for years, and ASIC never did anything about it in the past,” Ms Schaefer told SMSF Adviser.
She acknowledged that many accountants do not agree that the SMSF services they are providing fall into the financial advice category, an argument that is largely irrelevant in 2017.
“This is not just tax advice. I certainly believe [SMSFs are] a structure not a product, but that argument is gone. There’s no point having that one again. We’ve been there and it’s gone,” Ms Schaefer said.
Article from: Independent Financial Advisor
KATARINA TAURIAN- Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Following an ASIC investigation, Mr Cymon Fontaine has been sentenced to four years' imprisonment in the Southport District Court for seven charges of fraud.
Mr Fontaine pleaded guilty to defrauding six clients for a total of $105,910.10 and caused a loss of $4500 to another client.
Between 28 June 2011 and 1 July 2013, Mr Fontaine was an authorised representative and Corporate Upgrades Consultant for Wyndham Vacation Resorts South Pacific Limited (Wyndham), a financial services company selling time share interests in resorts and hotels.
Between April 2013 and October 2013, Mr Fontaine exploited the credibility and contacts gained from his position as a Corporate Upgrades Consultant to contact existing clients. He then offered to assist them with upgrades and the purchase of secondhand credits at a cheaper rate than that being offered by Wyndham.
Mr Fontaine used these funds for his own purposes, never purchasing the agreed secondhand credits for the clients. Once discovered, Wyndham terminated Mr Fontaine's employment on 1 July 2013. However, Mr Fontaine continued to defraud some clients after his employment was terminated.
ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said, 'This kind of dishonesty is not tolerated by ASIC or the community.'
This matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr Fontaine was charged under sections 408C(1)(d) and 408C(1)(e) of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld).
Wyndham is a developer and marketer of flexible, points-based holiday ownership products. Clients buy into different levels of memberships with Wyndham by buying 'points' or 'credits' from Wyndham. Depending on a client's level of membership (determined by the number of credits the client has) they are allowed different levels of privileges and benefits, including using their credits to stay at Wyndham's resorts and hotels or partner resorts or hotels.
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ASIC has banned financial adviser, Mr Darren Tindall, of Orange, NSW, from providing financial services for five years after an investigation found he failed to comply with financial services laws.
Mr Tindall was an authorised representative of Roan Financial Group Pty Ltd between 9 May 2013 and 19 May 2014, and was based in Orange, NSW.
Mr Tindall was banned from providing financial services after ASIC found that he had:
- engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct on a client's behalf by failing to disclose their pre-existing medical conditions on an insurance application submitted to an insurer;
- engaged in dishonest conduct by not disclosing the medical conditions in transferring that insurance obtained to a new insurer; and
- recklessly made misleading comparisons about superannuation products to four clients, which induced those clients to switch their superannuation.
ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said, 'ASIC will take action against financial advisers who have been dishonest or who mislead their clients, in order to increase public confidence in the financial services industry.'
On 17 January 2017, Mr Tindall applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a stay of the banning and review of ASIC's decision. The stay application was heard on 27 January 2017. On 9 February 2017, the AAT refused the stay. The date for the hearing of review of ASIC's decision is yet to be set.
Following an ASIC investigation, Mr. David St Pierre, a former Westpac Home Finance Manager, has been sentenced in the Southport District Court to 3 years imprisonment, to be released after 6 months on a recognisance order.
On 2 November 2016, Mr St Pierre pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonest use of his position, with the intention of directly or indirectly gaining an advantage for himself or others.
ASIC alleged that between July 2008 and June 2010, Mr St Pierre dishonestly used his position and submitted loan applications for approval when he knew they contained false information and false documents.
Mr St Pierre obtained over $2.5 million for Westpac customers, that they invested with a now failed Tasmanian property development scheme, operated by Capital Growth International Club Pty Ltd (CGIC) and All About Property Developments Pty Ltd (AAPD) (refer: 15-137MR).
In delivering the sentence, Judge Kent QC remarked that Mr St Pierre's behaviour was described accurately in his opinion by the Crown as calculated, elaborate, determined and not a fleeting mistake.
ASIC Commissioner Peter Kell said: "Mr St Pierre's actions betrayed the trust of his clients and caused them significant financial harm. This sentence showed such behaviour will not be tolerated.'
The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr St Pierre's recognisance is in the sum of $1000, conditioned that he be of good behaviour for a period of 3 years.
ASIC's investigation found that the customers to whom the loan applications related were elderly and vulnerable and with limited financial means, yet in spite of this, Mr St Pierre encouraged them to borrow against their homes, some of which were unencumbered, to invest with CGIC and AAPD, which promised returns of 12–20% per annum.
The customers received monthly interest payments from CGIC and AAPD after they invested, however the interest payments stopped shortly before a liquidator was appointed on 28 February 2011. This left customers without sufficient income with which to repay their loans to Westpac.
Westpac has compensated customers who obtained loans from Westpac through Mr St Pierre in relation to amounts they invested in CGIC. Westpac has also compensated investors who did not borrow funds from Westpac but claimed to have had some direct contact with Mr St Pierre before making their investment in CGIC. ASIC acknowledges Westpac's commitment to achieving a resolution for the benefit of CGIC investors. (refer: 14-264MR).
In March 2014, ASIC permanently banned Mr St Pierre from engaging in credit activities and providing financial services (refer: 14-043MR).
ASIC'S investigations into CGIC, AAPD and its officers are ongoing.