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16-046MR Queensland adviser permanently removed from the financial services industry
ASIC has accepted an enforceable undertaking (EU) from Mr Rankothge Bandula (Ben) Jayaweera. The EU permanently prevents Mr Jayaweera from providing financial product advice to any retail client.
Mr Jayaweera is a director and authorised representative of Growth Plus Financial Group Pty Ltd (Growth Plus) in Brisbane, Queensland.
Mr Jayaweera recommended that clients invest in an unregistered aqua agriculture investment scheme, which was operated by Growth Plus, without reasonably considering the clients' goals and financial situation. The recommended investments were not consistent with the clients' risk profile and exposed the clients' superannuation benefits to inappropriate levels of risk.
ASIC had concerns that Mr Jayaweera may have failed to:
- Act in the best interests of clients in relation to personal advice;
- Ensure the advice provided to clients was appropriate; and
- Ensure that when providing advice, he prioritised his clients' interests before his own or that of Growth Plus.
Under the EU, Mr Jayaweera will permanently cease to provide financial product advice to retail clients. Additionally, he will not be involved in any capacity in the provision of financial product advice to retail clients.
ASIC's review of advice provided by Mr Jayaweera was commenced after the Financial Ombudsman Service Limited notified ASIC of the non-payment by Growth Plus of a determination relating to advice provided by Mr Jayaweera.
Following an ASIC investigation and a three-week trial, former financial adviser Ben Jayaweera was found guilty of six charges of dishonestly causing detriment to clients. Mr Jayaweera has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, with a minimum period of six years to be served before becoming eligible for parole (19-285MR).