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15-294MR ASIC permanently bans former Magnitude Group adviser
ASIC has permanently banned Mrs Amanda Ritchie, a financial adviser and former authorised representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd (Magnitude), a subsidiary of Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac), from providing financial services.
ASIC's investigation found that between October 2009 and August 2014, Mrs Ritchie, of Shepparton in Victoria, had;
- falsely created documents including bank statements, emails and letters in order to deceive clients;
- engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in order to perpetuate the false documents on client accounts;
- transferred funds from clients' accounts without authorisation.
ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, 'The investing public needs to be able to trust those who provide financial services. ASIC will act to ensure advisers who flout the law and who disregard their legal obligations are removed from the financial services industry'.
Mrs Ritchie has a right of appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.
Westpac reported its concerns regarding the conduct of Mrs Ritchie to ASIC in December 2014.
Mrs Ritchie's employment was terminated by Westpac in August 2014.
Mrs Ritchie was an authorised representative of Magnitude from 19 February 2013 to 14 August 2014. Prior to this Mrs Ritchie was an authorised representative with M&S Services from 19 December 2003 to 18 February 2013.
Mrs Ritchie is the eighth person to be banned from the financial services industry as part of ASIC's Wealth Management Project, commenced in late 2014.
This project encompasses a number of investigations and proactive risk-based surveillances, with particular focus on compliance in large financial advice businesses.
Mrs Ritchie's banning follows ASIC accepting enforceable undertakings from two Queensland financial advisers, Reid Menkens, a former Millennium3 Financial Services Pty Ltd and AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd representative, and Leo Menkens, a former AMP representative. The pair trade as Menkens Financial Group in Brisbane, Queensland (refer 15-270MR).
In March 2015, Australian Financial Planning Solutions Pty Ltd (AFPS), an authorised representative of Charter Financial Planning Limited, an Australian financial services (AFS) licensee and subsidiary of AMP Limited, paid $10,200 in penalties after ASIC issued an infringement notice for making false or misleading representations (refer 15-052MR).
Other banning actions taken by ASIC include: Stuart Jamieson (refer 15-288MR), Sharnie Kent (refer 15-286MR), Martin Hodgetts (refer 15-218MR), Shawn Hickman (refer 15-213MR), Brett O'Malley (15-121MR), Brian Farber (refer 15-178MR) and Rebecca Locksley (refer 15-070MR).
Members of the public can check the names of people who have been banned from giving financial advice by searching on ASIC Connect within 'banned and disqualified' at www.asic.gov.au.
Mrs Ritchie was employed by M&S Group, who dismissed her in August 2014 following Westpac's investigation.
Westpac initially reported concerns to ASIC in August 2014, and finalised their investigation in December 2014 which was referred to ASIC.