08/11/2017 - 13:24

Former Perth financial adviser banned for 10 years

08/11/2017 - 13:24

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Former Perth financial adviser banned for 10 years

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has banned a former Perth-based financial adviser from providing financial services for 10 years, while an ex-Commonwealth Bank financial planner has pleaded guilty to forging client signatures.

Sergio Nicolo Belardo worked for BBY from 2013 until 2015 and was under investigation from Asic for the management of a number of the company’s client accounts.

Under Mr Belardo’s advice, the clients had engaged in an investment strategy that entailed selling call options while buying put options as downside protection.

Asic found Mr Belardo to have traded inappropriately on client accounts, without consent, and provided inaccurate account information to clients.

Asic commissioner Cathie Armour said financial advisers were expected to act with honesty.

“Asic will take action against those who breach their clients' trust,” she said.

Mr Belardo can appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Meanwhile a former Commonwealth Bank financial planner has pleaded guilty to forging the signatures of clients on application and other documents.

Ricky David Gillespie, a former senior financial planner of the Commonwealth Bank's Commonwealth Financial Planning (CFPL) business, admitted to one rolled-up charge of forging client signatures 33 times between 2007 and 2009 while working out of the Broadbeach branch on Queensland's Gold Coast.

Asic permanently banned Mr Gillespie in 2012 after it found he engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in violation of financial services law.

Asic alleged that, between January 2007 and June 2009, Mr Gillespie, allegedly forged client signatures on applications for financial products and company documents in an attempt to beat the bank's internal audit process.

A subsequent investigation found that, between 2008 and 2009, Mr Gillespie engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct from forgery to overcharging for inappropriate advice.

Asic deputy chair Peter Kell said Mr Gillespie's wrongdoing was not an isolated incident but rather a series of conscious and deliberate acts designed to disguise and conceal.

Mr Gillespie, of Southport, pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court on October 24 and will be sentenced on December 12 in Brisbane.

Asic said it continued to monitor CFPL after placing tighter conditions on the CBA subsidiary's Australian Financial Services licence in 2014, when the commission started clamping down on industry standards in the wake of repeated financial services scandals.

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