deception

Former Westpac Home Finance Manager sentenced to 3 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to dishonest use of his position

ASIC.jpg

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.

Background

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.

 

16-312MR ASIC permanently bans former company director in relation to fraudulent misappropriation

 

ASIC has permanently banned Mr Steven William Hill from engaging in credit activities and providing financial services.

An ASIC investigation found that between January 2006 and February 2007, Mr Hill, through Hill Stephens & Associates Pty Ltd and International Finance Consortium (Aust) Pty Ltd induced various investors to pay approximately $618,000 to acquire interests in a 'house and land' property development located in Queensland.

Mr Hill was found guilty of fraudulently misappropriating $281,000 of the invested funds, which were directed to company bank accounts to make payments to Mr Hill and other third parties.

On 18 April 2016, His Honour Acting Judge Garling sentenced Mr Hill to 2 years and 9 months jail for fraudulent misappropriation (refer: 16-118MR).

Following the sentencing, ASIC determined that Mr Hill should be permanently banned as he was convicted of offences involving dishonest and fraudulent conduct.

ASIC Commissioner Peter Kell said Mr Hill's misconduct was very serious.

'ASIC will ban people from the finance industry who act dishonestly and place personal interests ahead of those they service.  Mr Hill's actions exposed vulnerable members of the community to financial loss and hardship', Mr Kell said.

Mr Hill has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for review of ASIC’s decisions.

Background

ASIC investigations revealed that between January 2006 and February 2007, Mr Hill met with various investors based in New South Wales.  Describing himself as a 'financier/consultant', Mr Hill, through his company Hill Stephens & Associates Pty Ltd, told investors he would be able to provide them with investment opportunities to build their wealth towards retirement.

Mr Hill advised investors their funds would be used as 'seed capital' in a number of Queensland based property developments he was facilitating. Mr Hill advised investors that they would receive returns of between 10 - 30% per annum, however, unknown to the investors, funds paid were not invested in the property developments as originally advised by Mr Hill.

In June 2013 Mr Hill was charged with eight counts of fraudulent misappropriation (refer: 13-146MR).

In March 2015 Mr Hill was ordered to stand trial on seven counts of fraudulent misappropriation (refer: 15-050MR).

In March 2016 Mr Hill was convicted on 6 counts of fraudulent misappropriation by a Sydney District Court jury after a four-week trial. (refer: 16-072MR).

Mr Hill was found not guilty of one charge of fraudulently misappropriating $150,000.

16-309MR ASIC permanently bans former AMP financial planner

ASIC has permanently banned Mr Rommel Panganiban, of Bella Vista, New South Wales, from providing financial services after an ASIC surveillance found that he failed to act in his clients' best interests or have a reasonable basis for advice, and that he had prioritised his own interests over that of his clients.

Mr Panganiban was an authorised representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd between 19 March 2010 and 12 September 2014.  

Between 4 February 2011 and 31 July 2014, Mr Panganiban advised 49 clients who held risk insurance through their AMP superannuation fund to cease their existing AMP insurance policies and replace them with new AMP insurance policies. He did this without considering whether this was in the best interests of his clients and without advising his clients that he was able to simply transfer the insurance policies.

By ceasing and replacing the insurance policies, rather than transferring them, the full rate of commission became payable to AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd.  Mr Panganiban's remuneration was positively influenced by the upfront commissions he generated as a result of his advice.

As a result of replacing rather than transferring the clients' policies, Mr Panganiban's clients were exposed to unnecessary consequences including gaps in cover and changes in definitions and policy terms and they risked policy exclusions and loadings. It also unnecessarily restarted the non-disclosure period that allows insurers to avoid policies within the first three years of inception for inadvertent non-disclosure.

The repetitive nature of Mr Panganiban's conduct, against the best interests of his clients and motivated by greed, led to a finding by ASIC that Mr Panganiban was not of good fame and character.

AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd alerted ASIC to Mr Panganiban's behaviour on 3 October 2014, and has written to his clients offering to review their advice.

Mr Panganiban was a representative of Lionsgate Financial Group Pty Ltd from 29 September 2014 until 3 August 2016. ASIC will require both AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd and Lionsgate Financial Group Pty Ltd to notify Mr Panganiban's clients of his banning.

Mr Panganiban has appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of ASIC's decision.

Background

After the ASIC Delegate conducted the hearing of this matter pursuant to the Hearing Notice, Mr Panganiban filed an application in the Federal Court seeking orders that ASIC provide him with additional material (namely, client files) and that ASIC be restrained from making a decision in relation to the Hearing Notice. In his application, Mr Panganiban claimed that by failing to provide him with the client files, ASIC had denied him procedural fairness.

Mr Panganiban's application was heard on 21 April 2016. On 13 May 2016, his Honour Justice Bromwich delivered his judgment, in which he dismissed the application and awarded costs to ASIC.

In his judgment, his Honour Justice Bromwich confirmed that it is for ASIC to determine the matters and material on which it proposes to rely in making a banning decision, and that it is those matters and material which the rules of natural justice require to be disclosed to the banning candidate (refer: 16-160MR)

On 9 September 2016, an application in the AAT by Mr Panganiban for a stay of the ASIC Delegate's decision and confidentiality orders was dismissed. Mr Panganiban's appeal to the AAT for review of ASIC's decision will be heard on a date to be fixed.

Wealth Management Project

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, AMP and Macquarie).

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 when appropriate against Licensees and advisers.

As part of its Wealth Management Project, ASIC has banned the following advisers from the financial services industry, in addition to Mr Panganiban:

  •         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)
  •         Rebecca Locksley (refer: 15-070MR), and
  •         Craig Miller (refer 16-239MR)

16-306MR Sunbury man sentenced to 6 years and 3 months imprisonment for fraud

The County Court of Victoria has convicted and sentenced Mr Barry Patrick to 6 years and 3 months imprisonment, after he pleaded guilty to six charges following an ASIC investigation.  Mr Patrick, 73, of Sunbury, Victoria, will be eligible for parole after serving 3 years and 9 months.

Mr Patrick pleaded guilty to:

  • 3 charges of obtaining property by deception,
  • 2 charges of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, and
  • 1 charge of carrying on a financial services business without a license.  

Mr Patrick nominated investors to be directors of a number of companies formed to purchase properties on the outskirts of Melbourne for development. Those companies were Wrestway Property Development Pty Ltd, Exclusive Property Consultants Pty Ltd, Compendium Holdings Pty Ltd and Integrated Consolidated Holdings Pty Ltd.

To obtain funds for the property development projects, Mr Patrick persuaded investors to refinance their homes and/or establish self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF) and then invest their superannuation in the developments.

Between 2007 and 2010, Mr Patrick illegally obtained more than $600,000 from 14 retail investors to fund the property developments because of financial advice provided by him when he was not authorised to do so. 

The funds raised by Mr Patrick were not used to develop the properties but were instead used to pay interest payments to past and existing investors and to meet repayments on loans, as well as his own personal use such as artwork and jewellery.

In sentencing Mr Patrick, His Honour Judge Gavan Meredith noted that Mr. Patrick had shown little remorse for leaving his victims lives in ruin and that the offending was protracted, calculated and at times brazen.

Commissioner Peter Kell welcomed the County Court sentencing. "The conduct of Mr Patrick exposed vulnerable members of the community to severe financial loss and hardship. ASIC will not hesitate to prosecute this type of deceptive and harmful conduct."

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions prosecuted the matter.

Background

Mr Patrick was charged in July 2014 (14-166 MR) and pleaded guilty in July 2016 (16-138MR)

Mr Patrick had previously been convicted of operating a financial services business without a licence (10-257AD) as well as failing to keep proper books and records as a director of companies that went into liquidation (10-55AD).