ASIC hands down permanent ban over dodgy SMSF advice

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A former financial adviser has been handed a permanent ban from providing financial services following an investigation into his dealings with self-managed super fund (SMSF) clients.

An investigation into the conduct of Nicholas Hunter by the Australian Securities & Investment Commission found that Hunter had contravened financial services laws and is bankrupt.

Hunter had been an authorised representative of various financial services licensees dating back to 2002.

ASIC's investigation revealed that Mr Hunter advised a number of SMSF clients to directly invest their SMSF in property during 2012.

In doing so, he failed to make adequate inquiries into the clients' existing financial circumstances, including their existing SMSF portfolio and investment strategy, and did not give advice appropriate to the clients. 

Hunter was selling the properties on behalf of a Queensland property development company, MOGS Pty Ltd (in liquidation), and collecting commission of between $10,000 and $25,000 per sale.

ASIC's investigation also found Hunter had been involved in the issuing of falsified Westpac finance letters to MOGS to facilitate payment of his commissions and had failed to issue the SMSF clients with Financial Services Guides and Statements of Advice.

Hunter was also found to have operated a financial services company website when not licensed or authorised and provided financial advice to several SMSF clients in 2012 when not licensed or authorised.

ASIC commissioner Greg Tanzer said the investigation into Hunter was part of an increased focus by the watchdog on the SMSF sector.

“ASIC has recently focused our attention on the SMSF sector as the fastest growing sector in the superannuation industry,” Tozer said.

“The matter involving Mr Hunter highlights ASIC's concerns about the potential for direct property advice though SMSF to constitute financial advice. Further, the adviser must act in the best interests of the client in giving that advice.”

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