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Ban period reduced for NSW mortgage broker

by Reporter5 minute read

A former NSW mortgage broker has had his ban reduced to half the initial period that was imposed by Australia’s corporate regulator.

The banning period for former Watanobbi, NSW-based mortgage broker Michael Wilkins has been reduced from three years to 18 months by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, after the broker sought a review of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) decision on 31 January 2018.

ASIC had banned Mr Wilkins from engaging in credit activities for three years, after finding that he had “acted dishonestly and/or improperly towards clients”.

The corporate watchdog accused Mr Wilkins of completing loan applications on behalf of clients on five different occasions in June and July 2010, overstating their savings by $130,000 to $179,000. 

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He also reportedly had clients sign incomplete forms and failed to disclose to Westpac that some of the loans were for self-managed superannuation funds.

The tribunal accepted ASIC’s argument that Mr Wilkins had entered false information in loan documents submitted to Westpac, but concluded that there was insufficient evidence to confirm dishonesty in relation to client forms or the nature of the loans. 

As such, the tribunal decided that a shorter ban period was justified.

Explaining his decision, senior counsel Peter Taylor, a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, wrote: “The declarations of accuracy and completeness required in standard form loan applications of major financial institutions (and other credit providers) may appear formulaic and routine. But they mean what they say. Any significant failure to appreciate that reality, and to observe the requirement of scrupulous honesty underlying it, is likely to merit the sanction of a banning order. That sanction is appropriate in Mr Wilkins’ circumstances.”

“However, as I have indicated, Mr Wilkins’ contravention was both aberrant (compared to his known conduct in relation to a large number of similar loan applications) and prompted by what appears to have been the self-interested misconduct of Mr Holm (at least in relation to Westpac’s internal requirements). In those circumstances, whilst a banning order is appropriate, its duration should be significantly shorter than the three years involved in the 31 January 2018 decision.”

As the 18-month period is complete, the ban is no longer in effect. 

Meanwhile, ASIC has announced that it has banned Victorian mortgage broker Tim Yang from engaging in credit activities for four years and has cancelled Advanced Choice Finance’s credit licence, effective from 14 August 2019. 

The regulator said it had found that Mr Yang had “acted dishonestly in providing false answers to ASIC in the compliance certificates for [Advanced Choice Finance]” in January 2013 and January 2017. ASIC thus concluded that Mr Yang was “not a fit and proper person to engage in credit activities” and has been included in the regulator’s Banned and Disqualified Persons Register.  

The broker’s accreditation was previously terminated with the Bank of Melbourne in July 2012, as well as with Advanced Choice and Connective in April 2016. 

“Disclosures in our annual compliance certificates are an important mechanism by which ASIC is alerted to potential issues with licensees. Providing ASIC with false information prevents ASIC from properly administering the regulatory scheme for credit licensees,” ASIC commissioner Sean Hughes said. 

“ASIC will look to remove anyone from the credit industry who acts dishonestly in discharging this obligation.”

[Related: ASIC takes action against mortgage professionals]

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