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ASIC cancels SMSF firm’s licence

ASIC SMSF licence

ASIC has cancelled the licence of an SMSF advisory business, while BT will pay $3 million in penalties for fee-for-no-service breaches.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has cancelled the Australian financial services licence (AFSL) of a Queensland-based SMSF financial advice business for failing to lodge appropriate documentation.

The corporate regulator stated it had cancelled the AFSL of Fentborough Pty Ltd after it failed to lodge its annual accounts and compliance certificates for the financial years ended 30 June 2019 and 30 June 2020, and failed to maintain membership with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

According to the ASIC AFSL Register, Fentborough was authorised to provide SMSF advice and had held a licence since May 2016, and in cancelling the licence, the regulator noted the firm was no longer carrying on a financial services business and did not intend to do so in the foreseeable future.

“Under the Corporations Act 2001, ASIC may suspend or cancel an AFS licence if the licensee fails to meet its legal obligations, including its obligations to lodge financial statements and auditor’s reports annually and hold membership of a dispute resolution system,” it stated.

Fentborough can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.

In other ASIC news, BT Funds Management and Asgard Capital Management have each been ordered to pay a $1.5 million penalty for charging fees for no service and making misleading statements as part of civil penalty proceedings brought by the regulator.

The Federal Court imposed the penalties and also ordered the businesses to publish an adverse publicity order on their websites after it found that between September 2014 and August 2017, 404 customers were harmed by the conduct of BT and Asgard.

ASIC stated the court found that on at least 487 occasions, BT and Asgard had contravened the Corporations Act by making false or misleading representations to customers in their account statements that no deductions of ongoing adviser fees were being made after those customers had requested the removal of financial advisers from their accounts.

Additionally, BT and Asgard had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by providing customers with account statements that did not show BT and Asgard were continuing to deduct an ongoing adviser fee from customers’ accounts after those customers requested the removal of their financial advisers from their accounts.

BT is the trustee and registrable superannuation entity licensee for the Asgard wrap platform and a range of investment and superannuation products offered via the platform, and Westpac, owner of BT, has indicated it will be paying the penalties and costs awarded against BT and Asgard.

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