The corporate watchdog has commenced civil penalty proceedings against a collapsed firm, which offered self-managed super fund services and worked alongside a real estate agency and mortgage broking provider.
The firm, DOD Bookkeeping, is now in liquidation and was previously called Equiti Financial Services (Equiti FS). ASIC has alleged the company breached the prohibition against conflicted remuneration and failed to provide appropriate financial advice, falling short of the best interests duty for certain clients.
Equiti FS was part of a group of companies called the Equiti Group, and offered self-managed superannuation fund establishment and administration services. Equiti Group’s other arms, Equiti Property and Equiti Finance gave access to real estate and mortgage broking services.
ASIC has alleged that between 26 October 2015 to 27 August 2018, Equiti FS paid three advisers bonuses totalling $164,750 upon settlement of property purchases they recommended their clients make through either an existing SMSF or an SMSF to be established.
The bonuses applied to purchases arranged by Equiti Property.
ASIC has also claimed the bonus payments breached the ban on conflicted remuneration under the Corporations Act 2001, because they could reasonably be expected to influence the financial product provided or the choice of financial product recommended, by Equiti FS advisers to retail clients.
Additionally, ASIC has alleged that, between 18 May 2015 and 13 February 2018, Equiti FS breached the Corporations Act when its employed advisers gave financial advice on 12 occasions that was not in their clients’ best interests and was not appropriate for their clients.
The corporate regulator is seeking civil penalties and other orders against Equiti FS.
[Related: Ex-broker pleads guilty, fined for fraud]
Sarah Simpkins is the news editor across Mortgage Business and The Adviser.
Previously, she reported on banking, financial services and wealth management for InvestorDaily and ifa.