In a signal of ASIC's intent, the first case concerning alleged breaches of conflicted remuneration provisions is underway in the Federal Court.
The corporate regulator is seeking to declare The SMSF Club and its licensee RM Capital contravened the Corporations Act on as many as 259 occasions in accepting referral benefits from a real estate agent who sold property to the firm's clients via self-managed super funds established under its guidance.
Beginning civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court yesterday, ASIC alleged The SMSF Club advised clients to set up SMSFs and then use the SMSF to purchase property marketed by Positive RealEstate, a firm The SMSF Club held a referral agreement with.
According to ASIC, roughly $5000 was paid to The SMSF Club by Positive RealEstate when clients bought a property marketed by the firm through their SMSF between December 2013 and July 2016.
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ASIC also claims payments were made both directly to The SMSF Club, and on occasion to RM Capital, who would keep some of the referral benefit but pass "the majority" on to The SMSF Club.
As a result, ASIC has alleged RM Capital was aware of the payments and did not take reasonable steps to stop The SMSF Club from accepting them.
In total, ASIC estimates The SMSF Club accepted more than $730,000 in conflicted remuneration from the referral agreement. It believes it could reasonably be expected to have influenced the advice clients received from The SMSF Club, and therefore amounts to banned conflicted remuneration under the Corporations Act.
Each contravention - which ASIC alleges there are 259 of - carries a maximum civil penalty of up to $1 million.
The SMSF Club is located in Queensland's Isle of Capri and led by founder, managing director and head SMSF adviser Justin Beeton. It has two other financial advisers attached to its licence.
According to its website, The SMSF Club is "a membership program designed to help people take control of their superannuation investment decisions".