ASIC, Compliance, financial advice

Ex-directors sanctioned for SMSF dishonesty

Mudasir Mohammed Naseeruddin Mark Andrew Cooper SMSF ASIC Banned

A former company director who persuaded investors to transfer their super into SMSFs to use the funds for his own benefit has been sentenced to jail, while another has been slapped with a ban.

A former director has been sentenced to four years in jail for dishonestly obtaining over $500,000 by persuading investors to roll over funds into newly established SMSFs.

Mudasir Mohammed Naseeruddin was sentenced to four years and four months in prison after he previously pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonest conduct and two charges of failing to exercise powers and discharge duties in good faith in the best interests of a corporation contrary to subsections of the Corporations Act.

An Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) investigation revealed Naseeruddin dishonestly obtained more than $520,000 between 13 May 2015 and 6 January 2020 from six investors in rural New South Wales.

The investigation found he persuaded investors to set up SMSFs and transfer their retirement savings into them, with the intention of lending funds to two companies – Secure Investments Pty Ltd and Aquila Group Pty Ltd – of which he served as the director.

He promised investors the money would be used to invest in property developments when only a small portion of the funds were used for this purpose.

During sentencing, Judge Todd characterised his behaviour as “egregious and unacceptable”, stating he had “exploited relationships of trust” and the impact of his actions on victims was “nothing short of ruinous”.

Additionally, the ASIC investigation found between 14 July 2016 and 23 December 2019, he dishonestly used his position as a director of Secure Investments to withdraw over $550,000 from the company to purchase shares in a security company for his own benefit.

The corporate regulator first took action against him in 2019 when it obtained orders to freeze the assets of his companies and then ordered the winding-up of Secure Investments in 2020.

In a separate announcement, ASIC said it has banned a Queensland-based financial adviser from providing any financial services for a period of seven-and-a-half years for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct.

The regulator found Mark Andrew Cooper from Seven Hills, Brisbane, collected annual review fees from 240 SMSFs between January 2018 and January 2022, despite not conducting the required annual reviews in his role as the sole director of Acquire Strategic Advisers Pty Ltd.

It also determined Cooper, as the director of Acquire, neglected to establish systems ensuring clients received the paid-for annual reviews and failed to ensure timely uploading of file notes to a document management system, resulting in incomplete, inaccurate and unreliable records.

The ban is listed on the ASIC banned and disqualified register, and Cooper, who was the sole director of Acquire between 27 August 2012 and 4 February 2020, and its chief financial officer during January and February 2022, has the right to appeal the decision through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

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