ASIC just informed that it has accepted a voluntary variation of the Australian financial services (AFS) license of HLB Mann Judd Corporate Finance Pty Ltd, excluding the firm from providing advice as an independent expert.
This means that HLB Mann Judd cannot prepare or provide independent expert reports (IERs), opinions or valuations in connection with corporate transactions, including takeover bids, corporate schemes of arrangement and corporate restructures. Under their revised license, HLB Mann Judd Corporate Finance is still permitted to provide investigating accountant’s reports.
The variation is effective 20 December 2017 and replaces an interim undertaking by the licensee to cease IER engagements.
ASIC Commissioner John Price said:
AFS licensees active in the provision of IERs have heightened responsibilities as financial system gatekeepers. We will continue to monitor licensees and, where necessary, take licensing and enforcement actions.
ASIC regularly conducts surveillances of independent experts. As part of this surveillance program, ASIC undertook a review of HLB Mann Judd Corporate Finance and was not satisfied that it had:
- met its obligations as an AFS licensee; or
- complied with regulatory guidance in Regulatory Guide 111 Content of expert reports and Regulatory Guide 112 Independence of experts in relation to the provision of IERs.
ASIC sought and received an interim undertaking by the licensee to immediately cease IER engagements. HLB Mann Judd Corporate Finance subsequently advised ASIC to proceed with the AFS license variation.