ASIC has permanently banned an adviser from providing financial services or engaging in credit activities because of dishonest conduct while he was working for Westpac.
ASIC announced that it has permanently banned Subeer Luthra from providing financial services, in relation to conduct when he was an authorised representative of Westpac Banking Corportion.
ASIC says it was notified of the misconduct by Westpac, with a review of the advice finding that Luthra “dishonestly recast his clients’ priorities to suit his own interests”.
“Mr Luthra advised his clients to switch their superannuation to a product issued by BT (part of the Westpac Group), and to obtain comprehensive personal insurance, without taking their needs and objectives into consideration. He also recommended BT insurance and superannuation products to all his clients without adequately investigating their existing financial products,” said ASIC.
“The inappropriate advice resulted in Mr Luthra’s clients paying excessive insurance premiums that eroded their superannuation contributions at a point in their lives when they did not have enough time to rebuild their assets for retirement.”
“Mr Luthra prioritised his own interests over those of his clients by providing inappropriate advice that maximised the amount of fees and commissions payable to Westpac and himself. ASIC found that Mr Luthra is not of good fame or character to provide financial services because his conduct was dishonest and deliberate, and motivated by personal enrichment.”
ASIC also determined that Mr Luthra is not a fit and proper person to engage in credit activities.
ASIC’s Financial Advisers Register lists Mr Luthra as being an authorised representative of Westpac as late as April 2016. The ban will also be included on the Banned and Disqualified Persons Register.
ASIC noted that Mr Luthra has a right to appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
ASIC Commissioner, Danielle Press said: “The failure of financial advisers to act in the best of interests of their clients or to prioritise their clients’ interests over their own erodes public trust in financial services professionals and affects the financial system as whole. Individual advisers have a role to play in rebuilding that trust.”
“ASIC expects financial advisers to uphold the values of integrity and professionalism. Conduct that results in harm to consumers will not be tolerated.”
This latest ban is part of ASIC’s Wealth Management Major Financial Institutions Portfolio, which focuses on the conduct of Australia’s largest financial institutions – including the big four banks. This has lead to 56 advisers, and one director, being banned from the financial services industry, with three bans being appealed.