The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has banned an Adelaide financial adviser and cancelled the Australian financial services licence (AFSL) he operated under due to misleading or deceptive conduct in recommending and facilitating the illegal early release of superannuation via SMSFs.
The corporate regulator stated it banned Antonio Simeone, current director, authorised representative, key person and responsible manager of Simeone Pty Ltd, from providing financial services for five years.
The ban follows surveillance by ASIC that found Simeone recommended clients who were under financial pressure to roll over their Australian Prudential Regulation Authority-regulated superannuation fund to an SMSF and invest in Administrative Incentivised Management Systems Pty Ltd (AIMS), of which he was also a director.
After investing, he then allowed clients to borrow some of what was invested in AIMS with no obligation to repay what was lent.
“Mr Simeone’s clients relied on his advice and assumed that the investing of superannuation in AIMS, and the receipt of loans from AIMS, was legally permissible and appropriate,” ASIC stated.
“The strategy Mr Simeone recommended to, facilitated for, and allowed for his clients resulted in his clients breaching the restrictions on the early release of superannuation benefits and their SMSF not satisfying the requirement that it meet the sole purpose test.
“Mr Simeone’s conduct demonstrated he was not adequately trained or competent, was not a fit and proper person and was likely to contravene a financial services law in the future.”
The ban prevents Simeone from providing any financial services and from being involved in managing, supervising or auditing the provision of a financial service and the provision of training about a financial service or a financial product.
ASIC added it had also cancelled the AFSL of Simeone Pty Ltd, effective 28 February 2022, as it failed to ensure its representatives complied with financial services laws, failed to make adequate arrangements to manage conflicts of interest, did not take reasonable steps to ensure its representatives were adequately trained and failed to do all the things necessary to ensure the financial services covered by the licence were provided efficiently, honesty and fairly.
It noted the ban of Simeone and the cancellation of the licence of Simeone Pty Ltd were subject to a stay and review of ASIC’s decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) earlier this year, but on 28 June, the AAT ordered that there should be no stay and that neither Simeone’s ban nor the licence cancellation of Simeone Pty Ltd and their related appeals should be confidential.
ASIC’s decision to cancel the Simeone Pty Ltd licence remains under review at the AAT.