Jailed SMSF adviser permanently banned

jailed SMSF adviser banned

A former SMSF adviser, sentenced to six years’ jail, has also been permanently banned from providing financial services.

A former SMSF adviser whose behaviour was described as “deeply stupid” in misappropriating client funds has been permanently banned from providing financial services or from controlling an entity carrying on a financial services business.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) imposed the ban on Ross Andrew Hopkins, who was a financial adviser and sole director of Sydney business QWL Pty Ltd, which provided clients with SMSF advice.

The corporate regulator’s actions come after Hopkins was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of four years, in May after he was convicted of 15 dishonesty offences.

Those offences relate to actions that took place between October 2016 and October 2019 and where ASIC found Hopkins made 167 unauthorised transfers, impacting 13 clients, totalling $2,938,750.

According to ASIC, he used the stolen funds for personal purposes and made false representations regarding the unauthorised transfers to conceal his dishonest conduct and avoid detection.

The regulator began its investigation into Hopkins and QWL in 2019 following allegations that QWL had failed to assist the Australian Financial Complaints Authority in resolving client complaints, and Hopkins pleaded guilty to the offences in late 2020.

At the time of his sentencing in May, Acting District Court Judge Gregory Woods said Hopkins’ behaviour was “deeply stupid”, but noted “being stupid is no defence or mitigation”.

ASIC stated a permanent banning of Hopkins was appropriate because of the seriousness of the misconduct and the need to prevent future harm to financial consumers.

Hopkins has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision, and his banning will be recorded on the regulator’s Financial Advisers Register and the Banned and Disqualified Persons Register.

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