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Wednesday 26 June 2019

19-154MR Melbourne adviser permanently banned by ASIC

ASIC has permanently banned Subeer Luthra from providing financial services and engaging in credit activities because of his dishonest conduct.

This banning follows an ASIC surveillance in relation to Mr Luthra’s conduct when he was an authorised representative of Westpac Banking Corporation.

ASIC was notified of Mr Luthra’s misconduct by Westpac, and an ASIC review of Mr Luthra’s advice found that he dishonestly recast his clients’ priorities to suit his own interests.

Mr Luthra advised his clients to switch their superannuation to a product issued by BT (part of the Westpac Group), and to obtain comprehensive personal insurance, without taking their needs and objectives into consideration. He also recommended BT insurance and superannuation products to all his clients without adequately investigating their existing financial products.

The inappropriate advice resulted in Mr Luthra’s clients paying excessive insurance premiums that eroded their superannuation contributions at a point in their lives when they did not have enough time to rebuild their assets for retirement.  

Mr Luthra prioritised his own interests over those of his clients by providing inappropriate advice that maximised the amount of fees and commissions payable to Westpac and himself. ASIC found that Mr Luthra is not of good fame or character to provide financial services because his conduct was dishonest and deliberate, and motivated by personal enrichment.

ASIC also determined that Mr Luthra is not a fit and proper person to engage in credit activities. To be a fit and proper person to engage in credit activities, a person must act honestly, with integrity and have good judgement. Mr Luthra, however, dishonestly manipulated his clients’ aims and objectives and prioritised his own interests over theirs.

ASIC Commissioner, Danielle Press said, “The failure of financial advisers to act in the best of interests of their clients or to prioritise their clients’ interests over their own erodes public trust in financial services professionals and affects the financial system as whole. Individual advisers have a role to play in rebuilding that trust.

'ASIC expects financial advisers to uphold the values of integrity and professionalism. Conduct that results in harm to consumers will not be tolerated,' Ms Press said.

The banning of Mr Luthra is part of ASIC’s ongoing efforts to improve standards across the financial services industry. It will be recorded on ASIC's publicly available Financial Advisers Register and the Banned and Disqualified Persons Register. Mr Luthra has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.

ASIC's MoneySmart website has useful information for consumers about choosing a financial adviser, about how to complain about a financial adviser and about what to do if their adviser is banned.

Background

Mr Luthra’s banning is part of ASIC's Wealth Management Major Financial Institutions Portfolio. The Portfolio focuses on the conduct of Australia's largest financial institutions (NAB, Westpac, CBA, ANZ, Macquarie and AMP) with respect to credit and retail lending, financial advice, fees for no service, superannuation trustees, insurance, unfair contract terms and other licensee obligations, and other conduct arising from the Financial Services Royal Commission.

As part of this work, ASIC has banned 56 advisers and one director from the financial services industry. Three bannings are the subject of appeal.

Last updated: 26/06/2019 10:18