Esuperfund Pty Ltd has paid $30,600 in penalties after ASIC issued three infringement notices for false or misleading online advertising. Each infringement notice imposed a penalty of $10,200.
The advertisements related to Esuperfund's business of providing self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) establishment and administration services online to clients. Each advertisement ran between 31 January 2014 and 8 May 2014.
ASIC was concerned that:
- one advertisement inaccurately represented that clients who engaged Esuperfund to establish an SMSF in 2014 would not incur any fees or costs in establishing or operating the SMSF
- an article titled ‘9 Benefits of Setting Up A Self Managed Super Fund’ misrepresented the costs and benefits of SMSFs compared to retail and industry superannuation funds, and
- a third advertisement falsely represented that ASIC reviewed Esuperfund’s operations annually to ensure that it complied with its licensing obligations.
ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, ‘Setting up an SMSF is an extremely important financial decision and advertisements must accurately reflect the service being offered.’
Esuperfund removed the statements from its website following ASIC’s concerns.
The payment of an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the ASIC Act consumer protection provisions. ASIC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.
Regulatory Guide 234 Advertising financial products and services (including credit): Good practice guidance (RG 234) provides guidance to help promoters comply with their legal obligations not to make false or misleading statements or engage in misleading or deceptive conduct.