ASIC has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Westpac Banking Corporation in relation to alleged poor financial advice provided by one of its former financial planners, Mr Sudhir Sinha.
ASIC has permanently banned a former Perth-based financial planner, Mr Tak Simson Kwok, from the financial services industry.
Mr Kwok was employed as a financial planner by HSBC Bank Australia Ltd (HSBC) from 29 September 2009 to 16 December 2013.
His responsibilities included providing financial advice to HSBC customers in respect of investments in HSBC-approved products (HSBC AP).
An ASIC investigation found that between April 2013 to December 2013, Mr Kwok engaged in not only misleading and deceptive but also dishonest conduct in relation to client funds and investments.
In particular, ASIC found that Mr Kwok:
- misled and deceived four individual clients into investing a total of $1,975,000 that they falsely believed had been placed into a HSBC AP
- misled and deceived a further two individual clients into investing or reinvesting a total of $2,295,000 into what the clients falsely believed was a HSBC AP Annuity investment
- engaged in conduct that was dishonest, including forging documents and signatures to disguise the fact that client money had not been invested into a HSBC AP; and
- misled and deceived HSBC into erroneously believing he was only providing recommendations to the clients about products on the HSBC AP list and in accordance with HSBC policies.
ASIC Commissioner John Price said, 'ASIC will act to remove those financial advisers from the industry who engage in dishonest conduct'.
In permanently banning Mr Kwok, ASIC found reason to believe that he was not of good fame or character.
Mr Kwok has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.
Mr Kwok is the 51st individual to be banned by ASIC from providing financial services since 1 July 2015, of which 26 have been permanently banned.
ASIC's investigation into Mr Kwok's conduct followed notification by HSBC.
As a result of Mr Kwok's conduct, HSBC initiated court actions resulting in full remediation to all of the affected clients.
Regulatory Guide 78 Breach reporting by AFS licensees (RG 78) provides guidance for financial services licensees on reporting breaches, or likely breaches, of their obligations under the financial services laws.