Australian regulator ASIC and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions have announced that they have successfully appealed the sentence of Ricky David Gillespie, a former senior financial planner of the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning subsidiary, Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited.
On 12 December 2017, Mr Gillespie was fined $3,000 with no conviction recorded, after pleading guilty to a rolled-up charge of forgery. The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions subsequently filed a notice of appeal against the sentence on the basis that it was manifestly inadequate, in particular the decision not to record a conviction.
The appeal was heard in the Brisbane District Court on 14 September 2018. ASIC and the CDPP received judgment in their favour on 20 September 2018, with her Honour Judge Rosengren ordering that a conviction be recorded against Mr Gillespie. Her Honour noted that:
- this was an offence of dishonesty, committed by a person occupying a position of trust;
- the documents forged were protective in nature, both in terms of the CBA bank and the clients; and
- when confronted by CBA staff that he had committed forgery, Mr Gillespie denied doing so and continued to commit acts of forgery until April 2009.
In November 2012, ASIC permanently banned Mr Gillespie from providing any financial services after he was found to have:
- forged client signatures;
- provided advice to a client that was not appropriate in the circumstances;
- created false file notes;
- charged excessive fees; and
- failed to comply with financial services laws.
ASIC’s action against Mr Gillespie was part of ASIC’s Wealth Management Project. The Wealth Management Project was established in October 2014 to lift the standards of major financial advice providers. The Wealth Management Project focuses on the conduct of the largest financial advice firms (NAB, Westpac, CBA, ANZ, Macquarie and AMP).