Mr Gillespie

16-144MR ASIC charges former CBA planner with forgery

Following an ASIC investigation, Gold Coast man Mr Ricky David Gillespie, 38, has appeared in the Southport Magistrates Court on one rolled-up charge alleging the forgery of 31 documents.

Mr Gillespie provided advice as a former representative of the Commonwealth Bank's financial planning subsidiary, Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited (CFPL).

ASIC alleges that between 1 January 2007 and 13 June 2009, Mr Gillespie, while a Senior Financial Planner based at the Broadbeach Commonwealth Bank branch on the Gold Coast, forged the signatures of a number of the bank's clients to whom he was providing financial advice.

It is alleged Mr Gillespie forged the signatures of clients on documents including applications for financial products and a series of internal CFPL documents.  It is alleged that the purpose of the forgeries was to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth Bank's internal audit process.

The case was adjourned for further mention on 4 July 2016.

The matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Background

In 2014, ASIC placed conditions on the AFS licence of CFPL. ASIC continues to monitor the licence conditions. (refer: 14-192MR)

In 2012, Mr Gillespie was permanently banned by ASIC from providing any financial services. (refer: 12-269MR)

Editor's note:

On 4 July 2016, the matter was adjourned for a mention on 5 September 2016.

16-268MR ASIC bans former director of financial services business

ASIC has banned Mr Anthony John Downey, of Brighton, Victoria, from providing financial services for a period of six years following an investigation. Mr Downey was, until 3 June 2015, a director of Platinum Mortgage Securities Limited.

ASIC found that Mr Downey engaged in misleading conduct by providing false documents to support an application for an Australian visa, knowing that the documents would be provided to an Australian government department.

ASIC found that the relevant documents prepared by Mr Downey falsely represented that the visa applicant had made a qualifying investment with Platinum Mortgage Securities Limited.

ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said, 'ASIC expects directors and officers of financial services licensees to act with integrity when performing their role and, when they fail to do so, we will act to remove them from the industry.'

The matter was reported to ASIC by Platinum Mortgage Securities Limited.

Mr Downey has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of ASIC’s decision.

16-270MR ASIC bans former Macquarie adviser Anthony Jason Sourris

ASIC has banned Anthony Jason Sourris, of Kenmore, Queensland, from providing financial services for two and a half years. 

Mr Sourris was employed as a private client adviser in the Brisbane office of Macquarie Equities Limited (Macquarie) between 2008 and 2013. 

An ASIC investigation found that Mr Sourris: 

  • Was involved in February 2013 in the creation of a falsely signed and backdated client authority form, and lied to Macquarie about the validity of this document. 
  • Advised eight clients between September 2011 and November 2012 to open options accounts to allow them to trade in exchange traded options, while failing to properly determine that this advice was appropriate for these clients or providing a Statement of Advice to clients prior to advising them to apply to open the options accounts. 

While employed by Macquarie, Mr Sourris had a business relationship with his Macquarie colleague, Sarah Gardner, in which Mr Sourris provided investment advice to clients and Ms Gardner provided strategic and financial planning advice. ASIC has also banned Ms Gardner from providing financial services, for a period of one year (refer 16-269MR).  

ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, 'Financial planners are required to meet stringent compliance standards to protect the interests of their clients and instill confidence in the broader financial advice industry. ASIC will ensure advisers who fail to meet these standards are removed from the financial services industry.'  

Mr Sourris has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision. 

Background 

The outcome is a result of ASIC's Wealth Management Project, which was established in October 2014 to lift 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: 

1. working with the largest financial advice firms to address the identification and remediation of non-compliance advice; 

2. seeking regulatory outcomes, where appropriate, against licensees and advisers. As part of this Project, ASIC has, for example, banned the following advisers from the financial services industry, in addition to Mr Sourris: 

16-269MR ASIC bans former Macquarie adviser Sarah Kate Gardner

ASIC has banned Sarah Kate Gardner, of Mooloolaba, Queensland, from providing financial services for one year. 

Ms Gardner was employed as a strategic financial planner in the Brisbane office of Macquarie Equities Limited (Macquarie) between 2007 and 2013.  

An ASIC investigation found that in February 2013 Ms Gardner was involved in the creation of a falsely executed and backdated client authority form, and lied to Macquarie about the validity of this document. 

Ms Gardner formed an informal business partnership with Macquarie colleague Anthony Jason Sourris, in which Ms Gardner provided strategic and financial planning advice to clients and Mr Sourris provided investment advice. ASIC has also banned Mr Sourris (refer 16-270MR).  

Ms Gardner has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision. 

Background 

The outcome is a result of ASIC's Wealth Management Project, which was established in October 2014 to lift 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: 

1. working with the largest financial advice firms to address the identification and remediation of non-compliance advice; 

2. seeking regulatory outcomes, where appropriate, against licensees and advisers. As part of this Project, ASIC has, for example, banned the following advisers from the financial services industry, in addition to Mr Sourris: 

16-267MR ASIC accepts enforceable undertaking from My Adviser Pty Ltd

Following an investigation which commenced in January 2016, ASIC has accepted an enforceable undertaking (EU) offered by My Adviser Pty Ltd.

The ASIC investigation looked at the conduct of My Adviser Pty Ltd (My Adviser), the holder of an Australian financial services licence, in relation to the supervision and monitoring of its representatives, in particular Arion Financial Pty Ltd (and its predecessor Sleipner Financial Pty Ltd) (collectively Arion).

Arion was a financial advice business based on the Gold Coast in Queensland and was, from August 2012 to September 2014, a corporate authorised representative of My Adviser.

The ASIC investigation identified a number of instances of poor and unauthorised advice provided to clients of Arion including advice apparently provided by Craig Gore. The ASIC investigation also identified a number of failures by My Adviser in respect of its supervision and monitoring of Arion, and some of its other representatives. 

As a result, ASIC is concerned that My Adviser may have failed to comply with certain provisions of the Corporations Act including:

  • Section 912A(1)(ca) which required My Adviser to take reasonable steps to ensure that its representatives complied with financial services laws; and
  • Section 961L which required My Adviser to take reasonable steps to ensure that its representatives complied with s961B (the best interest provisions), s961G (the appropriate advice provisions) and s961J (the client priority provisions).  

My Adviser has offered an EU that acknowledges these concerns and that they are reasonably held by ASIC. Further, the EU requires My Adviser to:

  • repay clients who had transferred any monies to Arion (or certain related entities) following communications with Craig Gore;
  • engage an independent expert to review a sample of client files of My Adviser's representativesand to then prepare a report as to compliance with sections 961B and 961G of the Corporations Act; and
  • prepare a remedial action plan to deal with the recommendations of the expert report.

ASIC acknowledges the assistance and cooperation of My Adviser in connection with the investigation. ASIC also acknowledges that My Adviser has commenced paying remediation to clients of Arion, with more than $2 million paid to date.

ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said, 'All licensees must ensure that its representatives comply with the best interests obligations and where that doesn't occur, ASIC will look to take action.'

'In this instance, we welcome My Adviser's approach to resolving ASIC's concerns and their ongoing remediation of their clients.'

16-007MR Former Brisbane financial advisor jailed after pleading guilty to fraud charges

Following an ASIC investigation, Mr Thanh Tu, 38 years old, formerly of Forestdale, Brisbane, has today been sentenced to nine-and-a-half years imprisonment in the Brisbane District Court.

Mr Tu has earlier, on 6 November 2015, pleaded guilty to 33 counts of fraud and 21 counts of fraudulent falsification of records and at that time, was remanded in custody.

ASIC alleged that between September 2008 and September 2013, Mr Tu whilst an employee of Patersons Securities Limited (Brisbane (Patersons), dishonestly induced 18 separate individual investors to invest approximately $9 million by misleading investors and by giving, to some investors, false Certificate of Investment in the fictitious Paterson Securities - API Protected Fund and fictitious Patersons Securities Capital Protected Fund.

The defendant did not invest the money into secure investments as directed but instead, fraudulently redirected the funds, through a number of different accounts, to a personal trading account held by him with another organisation.  The defendant then, for his own purposes, traded the money in risky investments and ultimately lost a total of $8,120,073.53 of the original capital invested.  A total of $959,000.00 was recovered.

During the offending period, Mr Tu made "interest" payments to some of the clients, which were funded through money provided by other clients and not through investment profits made by the defendant.

Mr Tu provided clients with a variety of false documents to conceal his offending, including the false Certificates of Investment.

ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said Mr Tu had deliberately and systematically breached the trust of his clients on a large scale, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars.

'The actions of Mr Tu were deceitful and calculated and undermine confidence in the financial advice industry.  His lengthy jail sentence should send a strong message that such conduct will not be tolerated by ASIC or the community,' Mr Tanzer said.

Mr Tu was made eligible for parole after service three years, taking into account time already served in custody.

The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Background

Mr Tu commenced employment with Patersons in September 2008 as a private client adviser where he provided advice to and invested funds for predominantly Vietnamese and elderly clients.  Patersons terminated Mr Tu's employment in September 2013.

Mr Tu was subsequently employed as executive investment adviser by Cognitive Wealth Pty Ltd (Cognitive) until the company became aware of the ASIC investigation.  Mr Tu's employment with Cognitive was terminated on 19 December 2013.

On 19 December 2013, ASIC obtained Supreme court order requiring Mr Tu to immediately surrender all of his passports and any visa for any other country to the Registrar of the Supreme Court in Brisbane.  The court also ordered that Mr Tu be prohibited from leaving Australia without its consent (refer: 13-354MR)

In July 2014, ASIC permanently banned Mr Tu from providing financial services.                  (refer: 14-171MR)

Patersons reported Mr Tu's conduct to ASIC and assisted ASIC during its investigation.  As a result of Mr Tu's conduct, Patersons implemented a remediation program that was communicated to all of the affected client investors.  ASIC understands that a number of the affected client investors have satisfactorily resolved their concerns with Patersons.  Further information can be obtained from Patersons on 1300 582 256MR.

View the original ASIC Media Release here.

16-006MR ASIC bans former representative of Macquarie Equities Limited

ASIC has banned Mr Ben Rickman, of Point Cook, Victoria, from providing financial services for three years after he was found to not be adequately trained or competent to provide financial services.

Mr Rickman was formerly an employee of Macquarie Equities Limited (MEL) from July 2012 to June 2014.

ASIC's investigation found that during the period he was employed by MEL, Mr Rickman gave advice to his clients which involved the drafting of legal documents such as wills, and the giving of legal advice about those documents.  Mt Rickman also represented that he was a "solicitor/conveyancer" in a property purchase transaction.

Mr Rickman has no legal qualifications and is not licensed as a conveyancer.

ASIC found that the poor results of file reviews conducted by Macquarie and the fact that Mr Rickman acted outside the scope of his Macquarie Representative Authority and employment agreement demonstrated that Rickman does not have the ability, professional skills or judgement to competently provide financial services.  Further, ASIC found that Mr Rickman has demonstrated a lack of understanding regarding the role of a financial adviser.

MR Rickman has appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.

Background

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:

  1. Working with the largest financial advice firms to address the identification and remediation of non-compliant advice;
  2. 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 Rickman:
    1. Ben Cheug (refer: 16-004MR)
    2. Mark Tidbury (refer: 15-383MR)
    3. Amanda Ritchie (refer: 15-294MR)
    4. Stuart Murray Jamieson (refer:15-288MR)
    5. Sharnie Kent (refer: 15-286MR)
    6. Alfie Chong (refer: 15-259MR)
    7. Martin Hodgetts (refer: 15-218MR)
    8. Shawn Hickman (refer: 15-213MR)
    9. Brett O'Malley (refer: 15-121MR)
    10. Brian Farber (refer: 15-178MR)
    11. Rebecca Locksley (refer: 15-070MR)

View the original ASIC Media Release here

15-383MR ASIC bans former Meritum Financial Group adviser

ASIC has banned Mark Lionel Tidbury, a financial adviser and former authorised representative of Meritum Financial Group Pty Ltd (Meritum), from providing financial services for six years.  Meritum is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Australia Bank Group of Companies.

ASIC found Mr Tidbury had contravened a financial services law and was likely to contravene a financial services law in the future.

An ASIC review of Mr Tidbury's advice found that in a number of instances Mr Tidbury had recommended clients switch to a different superannuation product in circumstances where there was little benefit but significant additional cost to the client in switching.  On the other hand, the switching advice benefited Mr Tidbury through increased adviser fees.  In doing so, Tidbury had:

  1. Failed to act in the best interests of his clients, by giving them advice that may leave the clients in a worse position than if they had not followed his advice.
  2. Failed to accurately disclose the fees associated with the advice.
  3. Failed to put the interest of his clients ahead of his own when he knew that there was a conflict between his and the clients' interests.
  4. Failed to provide sufficient information to clients about the charges associated with the switching of their financial products.

ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said: "Financial advisers must put their clients' interests ahead of their own.  Super switching that provides little benefit to the client but is very profitable to advisers is clearly unacceptable."

Mr Tidbury's banning will be recorded on ASIC;s register of financial advisers.

Mr Tidbury has a right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.

Background

Mr Tidbury was a representative of Meritum from August 2013 to June 2014.  Meritum identified Tidbury's misconduct through a proactive commission data review.

ASIC published information Sheet 182 (INFO 182) in August 2013.  INFO 182 provides information and compliance tips for financial advisers who provide super switching advice.

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 firms (NAB, Westpac, CBA, ANZ, Macquarie and AMP).

ASIC's work in the Wealth Management Project covers a number of areas including:

  1. Working withe the largest financial advice firms to address the identification and remediation of non-compliant advice.
  2. 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 Tidbury:

 

View the original ASIC Media Release here

15-371MR ASIC permanently bans insurance broker convicted of fraud

ASIC has permanently banned Mr Mark Chapple from providing financial services after he was convicted of fraud in the NSW Magistrates Court (Tamworth.)

In May 2015, Mr Chapple pleaded guilty to four counts of obtaining money by deception and four counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception.  Mr Chapple was sentenced in September 2015 following a sentencing appeal.

Mr Chapple's fraud convictions arose from conduct while he was an employee of Agri Risk Services Pty Ltd (AgriRisk), a specialist rural insurance broker.  Mr Chapple invoiced a number of clients directly for his services despite having already been paid by his employer for those serevices, thereby gaining a financial advantage by deception of each of the affected clients.

ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said: "Clients should be able to trust that their insurance broker is providing a valuable service.  This behaviour will not be tolerated."

Mr Chapple's conduct was brought to ASIC's attention by AgriRisk, who have fully assisted ASIC with its enquiries.

Mr Chapple has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.

View the original ASIC Media Release here.

15-324MR ASIC permanently bans former Perth financial adviser

ASIC has permanently banned former authorised representative Ms Marion Joan Pearson from the financial services industry.

The banning results from an investigation regarding Ms Pearson's conduct in advising self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) clients.  ASIC found that she contravened financial services laws.

Ms Pearson, now residing in NZ, is the sole director and shareholder of Colisa Pty Ltd ACN 066 267 196 (Colisa).  Colisa traded as Anmar Financial Consultants (Anmar).

She was an authorised representative of Ballast Financial Management Pty Ltd ACN 086 601 014 (Ballast) for the period 1 November 2007 to 30 October 2013 and Colisa was a corporate authorised representative of Ballast for the period 1 November 2007 to 30 October 2013.  Ballast revoked her authorised representative status on 30 October 2013.

ASIC found that Ms Pearson:

  • engaged in conduct that was dishonest - including creating documents to disguise the fact that client money was paid into Colisa's bank account without the relevant client's knowledge or authority; and 
  • engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive, in that she misled Ballast and specified clients into believing the client's funds were placed in particular investments, when in fact, she had not done so.

ASIC Commissioner John Price said "If a financial adviser engages in dishonest conduct, ASIC will remove them from the industry".

ASIC is continuing its investigation into the conduct of Ms Pearson.  ASIC is not investigating the conduct of Ballast itself.

Ms Pearson has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's Decision.

View the original ASIC Media Release here