SMSF firm heads to court as $1.4m in question
ASIC has commenced proceedings against an advice firm after an investigation found an adviser from the firm allegedly used $1.4 million in unsecured loans from SMSFs for personal use.
ASIC has commended proceedings in the Supreme Court of Queensland against Refocus Financial Group Pty Ltd a financial planning business based on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, operated by former financial adviser Brett Andrew Gordon.
It has also commenced proceedings against Mr Gordon, his partner Heather Jean Swift and Consultia Super Pty Ltd of which Ms Swift is the sole director.
In a public statement, ASIC said Mr Gordon and Refocus were authorised representatives of Solar Financial Advisory Pty Ltd between 28 June 2014 and 26 August 2017.
During that period, ASIC alleges that Mr Gordon recommended that clients establish SMSFs and then advance unsecured loans to a related company, Diverse Capital Management Pty Ltd to undertake property development. Diverse was placed into liquidation on 18 May 2018.
Following the investigation, ASIC alleges that at least 10 clients loaned $1.4 million to Diverse on Mr Gordon’s recommendation. Those funds remain outstanding, according to ASIC.
It alleges that Mr Gordon used funds that had been loaned to Diverse for his personal use and as working capital for Refocus and that Ms Swift received funds from Diverse which were applied for her personal use.
ASIC also alleges that Mr Gordon and Refocus entered into other unsecured loan agreements to borrow funds from SMSF clients of Refocus, which have not yet been repaid and Mr Gordon “has continued to provide financial services despite not being licensed to do so”.
ASIC is seeking orders to appoint a provisional liquidator to Refocus and Consultia, prevent Mr Gordon and Ms Swift from dealing with their assets and restrain Mr Gordon from providing financial services.
Solar terminated Mr Gordon and Refocus as authorised representatives after becoming aware of Mr Gordon's conduct, and reported it to ASIC.
The matter will be heard in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on 11 July 2018.
ASIC's investigation is continuing.
ASIC has urged any clients of Refocus who wish to make a complaint regarding Mr Gordon to contact Solar or the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.
Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates. Miranda has also directed SMSF Adviser's print publication for several years.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.