ASIC warns about risk in crypto investment when using SMSF

The Aussie markets regulator has shared concerns regarding recommendations for Australian investors to switch from retail and industry superannuation funds to self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) as a “high return” portfolio.

ASIC noted that SMSF trustees are targeted to invest in crypto-assets (or cryptocurrencies). The regulator is concerned as superannuation is attractive for scammers and crypto-assets are a high-risk investment.

The regulator stated:

Setting up an SMSF is one of the most significant decisions you can make relating to your retirement savings. Before making the decision to set up an SMSF, seek advice from a licensed financial adviser. Do not rely on social media ads or online contact from someone promoting an ‘investment opportunity’. Be wary of people ‘cold calling’, text messaging, or emailing you with a recommendation to transfer your super to an SMSF, or invest in crypto-assets via your SMSF.


Crypto-asset investment

ASIC reminded investors to consider the risks before using their SMSF to invest in crypto-assets. Trustees of SMSF bear responsibility for the fund’s decisions and for legal compliance. The regulator recently warned the public about an increase in scams involving crypto-assets.

ASIC said in the official warning:

If you decide to set up an SMSF, you should seek professional advice to determine what investments to make. There are rules governing investments the SMSF can make and taxation consequences for investments, including cryptocurrencies. Any investment must be permitted under the fund’s trust deed and be in accordance with the fund’s investment strategy.

ASIC’s recently published guidance on the regulatory obligations in trading with crypto-asset exchange-traded products (ETPs) and other investment products.

Earlier in November 2021, ASIC shut down unlicensed investment scheme A One Multi Services. The company appeared to be conducting unlawful activity. The regulator alleged that over $2.4 million was transferred from A One Multi to buy crypto-assets.

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