ASIC has just banned yet another former Commonwealth Financial Planning Ltd (CFPL) employee from practicing as part of an ongoing case which has seen the watchdog face widespread criticism for not investigating sooner.
Jade Zaicew of Port Macquarie has been banned by ASIC from engaging in credit activities and providing financial services for a period of seven years.
The punishment comes after the regulator found that Zaicew engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct while he worked as a financial planner for CFPL.
This included conducting unauthorised transactions on several client accounts, including false information in three documents for the purpose of recording client instructions that were in fact no given and backdating four records of advice contained on client files.
Zaicew’s behaviour was identified as part of an enforceable undertaking accepted by ASIC in October 2011, which required CFPL to conduct a comprehensive internal review that uncovered widespread misconduct.
At the time, ASIC banned seven financial advisers and secured $51 million of compensation for over 1,100 affected customers.
But the regulator was also exposed to widespread criticism, especially in the media, which alleged that it took 16 months to act on whistle-blower information about serious misconduct at CFPL.
ASIC was subsequently subject to an ongoing senate inquiry with a reporting date of 30 May 2014. As part of that inquiry it was compelled to release new guidelines for handling whistle blowers.
The information sheet lays out who is counted as a ‘whistle-blower’, what protections are available by law and how ASIC will deal with those who put their jobs on the line to provide valuable and sensitive information.
ASIC said it values “all information that members of the public give us” and realises that whistle-blowers often get involved in “difficult and stressful circumstances”.
At the time Wealth Professional reported
that the regulator was forced to hit back at the widespread media and public criticism.
“The view that we were inactive also disregards the fact that we do not generally publicly comment on whether we are looking at a matter until we have begun civil or criminal action,” ASIC submitted, before acknowledging that it “could have and should have spoken to the whistle-blowers earlier, sought more information from them and…provided them with some assurance that ASIC was interested and active in the matter…”