The corporate regulator has permanently banned a Melbourne-based Westpac adviser for dishonestly recasting his clients’ priorities to suit his own interests.
ASIC’s banning of Subeer Luthra follows a surveillance it did in relation to his conduct when he was an authorised representative of Westpac, according to a statement.
Westpac notified ASIC of Mr Luthra’s misconduct. ASIC’s subsequent review of Mr Luthra’s advice found that he advised his clients to switch their superannuation to a product issued by BT, and to obtain comprehensive personal insurance, without taking their needs and objectives into consideration.
Further, he also recommended BT insurance and superannuation products to all his clients without adequately investigating their existing financial products.
ASIC said 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.
It added that 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 also found that Mr Luthra was not of good fame or character to provide financial services because his conduct was dishonest and deliberate, and motivated by personal enrichment, and determined that Mr Luthra was not a fit and proper person to engage in credit activities.
Mr Luthra dishonestly manipulated his clients’ aims and objectives and prioritised his own interests over theirs, ASIC 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,” said ASIC commissioner Danielle Press.
“ASIC expects financial advisers to uphold the values of integrity and professionalism. Conduct that results in harm to consumers will not be tolerated.”
The banning of Mr Luthra will be recorded on ASIC’s Financial Advisers Register and the Banned and Disqualified Persons Register.
Mr Luthra has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
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