ASIC bans alternative investment spruiker for four years

ASIC has banned Mr Geoffrey Woodcock of Auckland, New Zealand, from providing financial services for a period of four years.

Between November 2011 and October 2013, Mr Woodcock was the founder and manager of Capital Alternatives Pty Ltd and a director of Velvet Assets Pty Ltd. Both of those companies promoted alternative investments in Australia.

However, Capital Alternatives, Velvet Assets and Mr Woodcock were not holders of Australian financial services (AFS) licences. They were also not authorised representatives of a licensee.

Following an investigation, ASIC found:

  • a number of the alternative investments promoted by Capital Alternatives and Velvet Assets were financial products and as such the companies were required to hold an AFS licence;
  • as a consequence, Capital Alternatives and Velvet Assets carried on a financial services business without holding an AFS licence and so contravened s911A of the Corporations Act;
  • Mr Woodcock was involved in this contravention by the companies; and
  • Mr Woodcock personally induced clients to invest by failing to disclose that around 40-45 per cent of the money invested would be retained as commission.

Commissioner Greg Tanzer said:

The Australian financial services licensing regime provides safeguards. Consumers should not invest with a person or entity in Australia unless they are authorised by, or hold, an AFS licence.’

Mr Woodcock has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of ASIC’s decision.

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