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Tribunal upholds ASIC ban on former Westpac employee

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Reporter 4 minute read

A former Westpac employee will be prohibited from providing financial advice for three years after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has upheld the corporate regulator’s ban.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has upheld the decision of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) to ban former Perth financial adviser Jason Sean Atkins from providing financial services for three years.

Mr Atkins provided advice to clients to establish a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) and use limited recourse borrowing arrangements to fund the purchase of real property. 

ASIC found that Mr Atkins had not acted in the best interest of his clients when giving this advice, and was concerned that Mr Atkins did not investigate or consider whether the strategy of investing in property through an SMSF would outperform his clients’ existing superannuation fund and improve their retirement position. 

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Reflecting on the verdict, AAT’s senior member, Dr Michelle Evans, said: “The detriment and potential loss caused to the clients is potentially very serious.

“The applicant facilitated a high-risk investment strategy for the clients whereby all of the clients were in a worse financial position than if they had done nothing and not followed his [advice].  

“The clients were also left in the disadvantageous position of having a single property as the sole asset in their superannuation funds, leaving them in a precarious position, for instance: if the market were to drop; if the property were to be un-tenanted; or if the clients otherwise have cash flow problems, such as in the case of a redundancy.”

ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell added: “Advisers who provide poor advice on SMSFs are putting their clients’ financial futures at risk. Advisers who fail to give compliant advice will be removed from the industry.”

Mr Kell continued: “The job of financial advisers is to help their clients by providing professional advice that leaves their clients in a better position, not to merely execute their clients’ wishes, especially when those wishes are going to leave their clients in a worse financial position.”

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Mr Atkins has the right to appeal the AAT’s decision to the Federal Court.

[Related: Former Westpac banker permanently banned for mortgage fraud]

Tribunal upholds ASIC ban on former Westpac employee
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