The principal of a Newcastle-based accounting and financial planning practice has been banned from providing financial services following an ASIC probe into deceptive SMSF advice.
According to an Australian Securities and Investments Commission statement, Nicholas James Ellis has been found guilty of engaging in "dishonest conduct and misleading or deceptive conduct", and has been banned for six years.
Ellis is a "director of a number of companies based in Newcastle including 2020 Financial Solutions Pty Ltd and 2020 Accountancy Solutions Pty Ltd", according to the statement.
Ellis allegedly made dishonest statements to an "elderly client" in relation to their self-managed superannuation fund and failed to invest $200,000 he received from the client, using it instead to "purchase personal assets" and pay off credit card debts.
"ASIC will take action to protect self-managed superannuation funds by ensuring they are not accessed and abused by unscrupulous operators like Mr Ellis," said ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer.
"Those who blatantly disregard their obligations as a financial service provider will be removed from the industry."
Ellis is an SMSF Professionals' Association of Australia (SPAA) accredited SMSF specialist according to his website, and a fellow of the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) as well as a registered business broker.
According to the 2020 Group website, the financial planning arm of the business is a "corporate authorised representative of Custom Wealth Solutions Dealer Services."
However, 2020 Group spokesperson Thor McDowell has told ifa Ellis is not involved in 2020's financial planning practice and has not practiced as a financial planner for two years, focusing instead on the company's accountancy practice.
Correction: This article previously referred to the banned individual as a "former Custom Wealth rep". It has since become known that Mr Ellis was licensed through a different AFSL holder and not through 2020's current licensing arrangements with Custom Wealth.
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