Court restrains unlicensed SMSF property advice business

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The Supreme Court of Queensland has issued orders restraining an individual and a company from conducting an unlicensed financial services business advising on SMSFs and property.

Late last year ASIC commenced legal proceedings against Richard Gardner – a credit representative and former financial adviser – and Advanced Wealth Financial Services Pty Ltd, following an investigation by the regulator.

ASIC alleged that Mr Gardner and the company had been providing financial services without a licence or authorisation. This included recommending clients establish SMSFs in order to purchase newly constructed investment property, recommending specific properties, recommending specific developers or builders and receiving “substantial commissions from the builder or developer used for the construction of the investment property”.

The Supreme Court of Queensland has now made orders restraining Advanced Wealth and Richard Gardner from carrying on a financial services business.

According to ASIC, the Court found that both Advanced Wealth and Mr Gardner had contravened the Corporations Act by “providing financial advice to clients to set up SMSFs to facilitate the purchase of investment properties in Australia without holding an AFSL [Australian Financial Services Licence]”.

ASIC goes on to say that the Court found “Mr Gardner, as the sole director and responsible decision-maker for Advanced Wealth, was knowingly concerned in Advanced Wealth’s contravention of section 911A of the Corporations Act between 29 April 2016 and 9 November 2018”.

“Mr Gardner and Advanced Wealth are not currently licensed nor authorised to provide financial services unless they hold, or are authorised by the holder of, an Australian financial services licence (AFSL),” ASIC said.

The Court has also ordered that Mr Gardner and Advanced Wealth pay ASIC’s costs, fixed at $10,000.

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