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16-124MR ASIC permanently bans former NAB financial planner
ASIC has permanently banned Mr Hardik Bhimani, of Sheidow Park, South Australia, from providing financial services after an investigation found he had misappropriated advice fees owed to his employer, charged his clients excessive fees, and failed to provide a client with statements of advice.
Mr Bhimani was employed in New South Wales as a senior financial planning manager, and later a senior financial planner, with National Australia Bank Limited (NAB) between 1 April 2011 and 4 November 2013. He worked in NAB's financial planning business, NAB Financial Planning.
Between 5 December 2012 and 7 August 2013, ASIC found that Mr Bhimani:
- engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by creating and supplying NAB with 'non-standard fee forms' indicating the applicable fees payable by the clients had been waived, and then made arrangements for the clients to deposit the advice fees into his personal NAB bank account;
- charged clients excessive fees;
- failed to provide a client with statements of advice; and
- engaged in repeated breaches of the standards expected of a person in his position.
ASIC also found reason to believe that Mr Bhimani was not of good fame and character.
NAB alerted ASIC to Mr Bhimani's conduct and fully refunded the advice fees to the affected clients.
ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said that ASIC would not tolerate this type of behaviour.
'ASIC will continue to protect consumers by removing those who engage in misleading and deceptive conduct from the industry', he said.
Mr Bhimani has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.
This outcome is a result of ASIC's Wealth Management Project. The Wealth Management Project was established in October 2014 with the objective of lifting standards by major financial advice providers. The Wealth Management Project focuses on the conduct of the largest financial advice firms (NAB, Westpac, CBA, ANZ, AMP and Macquarie).
ASIC's work in the Wealth Management Project covers a number of areas including:
(i) working with the largest financial advice firms to address the identification and remediation of non-compliant advice.
(ii) seeking regulatory outcomes where appropriate against Licensees and advisers.
For example, as part of its Wealth Management Project ASIC has banned the following advisers from the financial services industry, in addition to Mr Bhimani:
- Gerard McCormack (overturned on appeal: 16-448MR)
- Shane Thompson (refer:16-022MR)
- Ben Rickman (refer:16-006MR)
- Ben Cheung (refer: 16-004MR)
- Mark Tidbury (refer: 15-383MR)
- Amanda Ritchie (refer: 15-294MR)
- Stuart Murray Jamieson (refer:15-288MR)
- Sharnie Kent (refer: 15-286MR)
- Alfie Chong (refer: 15-259MR)
- Martin Hodgetts (refer: 15-218MR)
- Shawn Hickman (refer: 15-213MR)
- Brett O'Malley (refer: 15-121MR)
- Brian Farber (refer: 15-178MR), and
- Rebecca Locksley (refer: 15-070MR)