The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has cancelled the credit licence of Melbourne-based property investment and lending firm Money Choices for its non-compliance with credit laws and providing unlicensed SMSF advice.
A statement released by the regulator said the company’s sole director, Matthew George, had been banned from engaging in credit activities for eight years and from providing financial services for three years following an ASIC investigation.
The investigation found that between 1 July 2010 and 23 August 2012, Money Choice had engaged in unlicensed lending, organising loans from an unlicensed developer and giving misleading information to lenders, and that the firm failed to meet responsible lending conduct obligations or to have adequate arrangements in place to ensure clients were not disadvantaged by conflicts of interest.
In addition, the company was found to have advised individuals to set up a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) for the purposes of investing in property despite the fact that Mr George was not accredited or sufficiently licensed to provide SMSF advice.
“Mr George demonstrated through his conduct that he is not a fit and proper person to engage in credit activities,” ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell said in the statement.
“This included some instances where Mr George preferred his own interests to those of Money Choice’s clients.”
The cancellation follows release of the findings of an ASIC taskforce set up to review advice in the SMSF sector, which found “pockets of concerning advice”, particularly where SMSFs were being used as a vehicle through which to invest in direct property.
Upon the eve of the taskforce report’s release, Mr Kell said the regulator was prepared and ready to crack down on such instances.
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