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19-324MR CommInsure sentenced for hawking offences
The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited, trading as CommInsure, has today been convicted of 87 counts of offering to sell insurance products in the course of unlawful, unsolicited telephone calls, contrary to s992A(3) of the Corporations Act. This conduct is known as “hawking”.
CommInsure was fined $700,000.
The conviction and fine followed CommInsure’s guilty plea to the charges on 19 November 2019 (19-313MR).
The sentence takes into account CommInsure’s early guilty plea to the charges, which carried a maximum total penalty of $1,848,750. If the conduct were to occur under the new penalty regime, effective from March 2019, the maximum penalty would be $10,962,000.
In delivering the sentence, Her Honour Magistrate Atkinson of the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney said there is a ‘significant need for deterrence’, and that those who market and sell insurance products ‘must ensure that they comply with what is important consumer protection legislation.’
‘The conviction and sentence today sends a significant message to the financial services industry. The model operated by CommInsure carried risks for consumers due to the unsolicited sale of complex insurance products which consumers may not have needed, wanted or understood’, said ASIC Deputy Chair Daniel Crennan QC.
This matter was prosecuted by The Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions after an investigation and referral of a brief of evidence by ASIC.
ASIC’s action against CommInsure falls within ASIC's Wealth Management Major Financial Institutions Portfolio. The Portfolio focuses on the financial services 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.