Following an ASIC investigation, Ms Tracey Joanne Burnell, 57, of Victoria, has been permanently banned from providing financial services.
Ms Burnell is currently the director of Landlord Protection Group Pty Ltd and the previous sole director of the companies Landlord Protection & Collection Pty Ltd (LP&C) (under external administration) and Protection & Collection Pty Ltd (P&C) (deregistered).
ASIC previously banned Ms Burnell in May 2011 for a period of three years for providing financial services on behalf of P&C when neither she nor P&C were licensed or authorised (Refer: 11-91AD).
In August 2014, Ms Burnell was convicted of a criminal offence for representing on two occasions that she was entitled to engage in legal practice when she was unqualified (Refer: http://lsbc.vic.gov.au/?p=2874).
ASIC's current investigation considered conduct during 2014 to 2017, including the role of Ms Burnell in arranging contracts of insurance when neither she, nor LP&C was authorised to do so. LP&C was only ever permitted to refer clients to insurance brokers for the purposes of obtaining landlord protection insurance.
However, Ms Burnell's conduct went beyond that of a mere referrer in that she:
- issued invoices to clients for insurance premiums on LP&C stationery letterhead (and in some cases inflated the amount of the premium required to be paid by the client); and
- accepted payments from clients in relation to those insurance premiums into a LP&C bank account; and
- on occasions, failed to pass on those payments of insurance premiums to the insurance brokers, with whom referral agreements were in place.
ASIC's decision also found that Ms Burnell was not a fit and proper person to provide financial services because she:
- provided financial services on behalf of LP&C without an AFSL or authorisation;
- engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, or conduct that was likely to mislead or deceive, in relation to a financial product or a financial service; and
- was involved in the contravention of a financial services law by LP&C.
ASIC also found that Ms Burnell is not of good fame or character and is likely to contravene a financial services law.
ASIC's Acting Chairman Peter Kell said, 'Where people engage in financial services when unlicensed or engage in misleading and deceptive conduct, ASIC will ensure that they are excluded from providing such services in the future.'
Ms Burnell has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.
Consumers can visit the ASIC website when engaging with financial services providers to consider any relevant information that may be available pertaining to the provider. Other than media releases, ASIC maintains a public register of banned and disqualified individuals.
On 15 December 2017, Ms Burnell lodged an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), which has yet to be listed for further consideration. Ms Burnell also filed a stay application on 22 January 2018, which was refused by the AAT on 27 March 2018.
Editor's note 2:
On 19 and 20 August 2020, the AAT heard Ms Burnell’s application for review and has reserved its decision.