An appeal by the corporate watchdog has been upheld after the Federal Court set aside a decision made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to not ban a Western Australian-based financial adviser.
Robert Hutchison was permanently banned from providing financial services in June 2017, however, the AAT set aside this decision in September 2018. ASIC subsequently filed an appeal in October 2019, with the hearing held in June this year.
Hutchison was an authorised representative for RI Advice, a licensee formerly owned by OnePath (an ANZ subsidiary).
The appeal concerned the meaning of the phrase "in relation to", with ASIC alleging Hutchison had acted dishonestly "in relation to" a financial product or service.
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However, the AAT found that although he had breached his contractual obligations with his licensee RI Advice, the breach did not concern the financial service Hutchison provided to his clients.
The Court disagreed, arguing that "an indirect connection between a person's dishonest or misleading conduct and a financial product or service is sufficient for the prohibitions to apply".
The conduct included double charging clients advice fees, as well as receiving payments for advice directly into his bank account when Hutchison knew he was obliged to pay them to the licensee.
The matter has now been revoked back to the AAT to have the matter re-determined.