ATO, Regulation

ATO incorporates social media in enforcement action

The ATO has revealed it is taking to social media where appropriate to strengthen the effectiveness of its enforcement activities to protect the integrity of the SMSF sector from promoters of illegal early-release schemes and organisations providing unlicensed advice.

The regulator shared the fact it had used the new medium in a recent case where unlicensed advice was being offered to members of the public outside suburban shopping centres.

“In a recent case we observed an organisation was setting up pop-up desks out the front of major supermarket stores and they were attracting passers-by, saying ‘come and talk to us, we can help you set up your SMSF and you can use it to go on a holiday or buy a home and basically do whatever you want’. That organisation was not licensed to provide financial advice, so we got involved and so did ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission),” ATO SMSF risk director Steven Keating told delegates at the smstrusteenews SMSF Trustee Empowerment Day 2019 on the Gold Coast today.

“We launched into a Facebook social media campaign [to combat this]. We targeted some of the individuals with the same demographic of the people this promoter was targeting and I’m pleased to say we ended up shutting down this particular business.”

Keating reiterated the ATO is continuing its collaborative approach in working with ASIC to eliminate providers of illegal or poor advice to SMSF trustees.

“As soon as we become aware that there are people out there providing non-licensed financial advice or there is some potential misconduct in the advice that they are providing, we will refer that matter to ASIC,” he noted.

Earlier this year, ASIC also warned SMSF trustees to be wary of spruikers operating in the Coffs Harbour region who are promoting illegal early release of superannuation strategies.

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