Property spruiker banned from financial services

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Money Choice director Matthew George has been banned from providing financial services for three years, after ASIC found that he put his own interests above his clients’.

George was the sole director of the Melbourne-based property investment and finance business. An investigation by ASIC found instances of unlicensed SMSF advice, responsible lending shortfalls and failure to comply with credit laws.

ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell said George advised some clients to set up a SMSF for the purpose of buying property, when he was not licensed to provide that advice.

“Mr George demonstrated through his conduct that he is not a fit and proper person to engage in credit activities,” said Kell. “This included some instances where Mr George preferred his own interests to those of Money Choice’s clients.

“We do not want to see SMSFs become the vehicle of choice for property spruikers and the action we’ve taken against Mr George should serve as a timely warning of ASIC’s intention to ensure compliance with the law.”

Between 1 July, 2010, and 23 August, 2012, Money Choice brokered residential investment loans to more than 40 clients who had purchased a unit on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. ASIC’s investigation found in brokering some of the loans, Money Choice and Mr George had:

  • Engaged in unlicensed lending
  • Been involved in organising loans from the unlicensed developer
  • Given misleading information to lenders
  • Failed to meet responsible lending conduct obligations, including failing to verify investor’s financial situation, and
  • Failed to have adequate arrangements in place to ensure clients were not disadvantaged by conflicts of interests that arose regarding commission payments

Money Choice and Mr George have the right to lodge an application for review of ASIC’s decision with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.