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15-241MR Former financial advisor permanently banned from financial services industry
ASIC has permanently banned former authorised representative Mr Nicholas Hunter from the financial services industry.
The banning results from an investigation regarding Mr Hunter's conduct in advising self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) clients. ASIC found he had contravened financial services laws and is bankrupt.
Mr Hunter has been an authorised representative of various financial services licensees dating back to 2002, his most recent appointment with Spring Financial Group Pty Ltd between May 2011 and June 2012.
ASIC's investigation revealed that Mr Hunter advised a number of SMSF clients to directly invest their SMSF in property during 2012. In doing so, he failed to make adequate inquiries into the clients' existing financial circumstances, including their existing SMSF portfolio and investment strategy, and did not give advice appropriate to the clients.
Mr Hunter was selling the properties on behalf of a Queensland property development company, MOGS Pty Ltd (in liquidation), and collecting commission of between $10,000 and $25,000 per sale.
ASIC's investigation also found Mr Hunter:
- was involved in the issue of falsified Westpac finance letters to MOGS to facilitate payment of his commissions
- failed to issue the SMSF clients with Financial Services Guides and Statements of Advice
- operated a financial services company website when not licensed or authorised
- provided financial advice to several SMSF clients in 2012 when not licensed or authorised.
ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said, 'ASIC has recently focused our attention on the SMSF sector as the fastest growing sector in the superannuation industry.'
'The matter involving Mr Hunter highlights ASIC's concerns about the potential for direct property advice though SMSF to constitute financial advice. Further, the advisor must act in the best interests of the client in giving that advice.'
Mr Hunter's conduct was uncovered by ASIC in the course of its investigation concerning Royale Capital Pty Ltd and other parties (refer: 15-134MR).