BT Funds Management Ltd (BT) has paid $20,400 in penalties after ASIC issued two infringement notices for misleading statements contained in the online advertising of BT Super.
The misleading statements were contained in two separate online advertising campaigns. Each infringement notice imposed a penalty of $10,200.
The first infringement notice was issued for the statement “BT Super Has Outperformed Industry Super Funds Over the Last 5 Years*” published on search results pages generated via www.google.com.au from 26 June 2014 to 18 September 2014.
ASIC was concerned that BT misled consumers by representing that superannuation products issued by BT had generated greater returns than those generated by all industry super funds during the stated period. In reality, BT’s superannuation products had not generated greater returns during the stated period.
The second infringement notice was issued for the inclusion of the words “Industry Super Australia” in the headlines of BT advertisements published on search result pages generated via www.google.com.au from 29 October 2014 to 17 November 2014.
ASIC was concerned that BT misled consumers into believing that BT had an affiliation with Industry Super Australia (ISA), an organisation which manages collective projects on behalf of fifteen industry super funds. BT has never had an affiliation with ISA.
ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, 'The advertising of financial products and services must be clear, accurate and balanced and should be presented in a way that avoids potentially misleading or deceiving consumers.
'ASIC has provided guidance to help promoters comply with their legal obligations when advertising financial products and services. We continue to actively monitor advertising in this area and will take appropriate action where we consider consumers may be misinformed,' Mr Kell said.
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.