Adviser banned over illegal early access scheme
A Victorian financial planner has been permanently banned after an ASIC investigation found that they dishonestly obtained money from client super fund accounts as part of an illegal early access scheme.
In a public statement, ASIC said that it has permanently banned Ahmed Saad of Glenroy, Victoria, from providing financial services for dishonestly obtaining money from client retail superannuation fund accounts.
The money was obtained for the purposes of operating a scheme providing clients with illegal early access to their superannuation, ASIC stated.
The banning follows an ASIC investigation into Mr Saad’s conduct as an authorised representative of Apogee Financial Planning Limited and through his business Saad Wealth Management Pty Ltd.
The ASIC investigation found that between October 2016 and September 2017, Mr Saad breached various financial services laws, including engaging in dishonest conduct on approximately 164 separate occasions by illegally obtaining funds between $1,000 and $28,000 from client superannuation accounts.
A total of $1.4 million was obtained from Nulis Nominees Australia Limited, the trustee of the MLC Super Fund, and rebated to clients.
ASIC also found that Mr Saad had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by falsifying figures and details in client statements of advice and adviser remuneration fee forms provided to Nulis and Apogee.
He also failed to act in the best interest of his clients, ASIC stated, by not providing them with appropriate advice.
Apogee and Nulis first identified large adviser fees being charged to the superannuation accounts of Mr Saad’s and Saad Wealth’s clients in March 2017 following an increase in Mr Saad’s and Saad Wealth’s revenue.
Mr Saad and Saad Wealth, of which Mr Saad was the sole director, were authorised representatives of Apogee from 10 April 2012 until 16 October 2017. In October 2017, their letter of authority was revoked by Apogee.
On 11 December 2018, ASIC found that Mr Saad breached financial services laws and was not of good fame and character.
Mr Saad has the right to lodge an application for review with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Nulis itself has come under fire this year, when it was forced to explain in the royal commission proceedings why MLC continued to deduct plan service fees from its MasterKey Personal Super member accounts, when many of them had no link to an adviser.
In September, ASIC announced that it had commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against Nulis Nominees (Australia) Limited and MLC Nominees Pty Ltd relating to fees charged by both entities to a significant number of their superannuation members for services that weren’t provided.