ASIC has permanently banned former NSW financial adviser Mr Ashley Grant Howard from providing financial services after an investigation found he had:
- engaged in dishonest conduct;
- held out that trading he was conducting was authorised;
- provided financial services when not licensed or authorised to do so; and
- engaged in conduct that was likely to mislead.
ASIC found that Mr Howard had failed to comply with the Corporations Act in that he:
- used more than $1.8 million of client funds for his own benefit or the benefit of others (which included paying for cosmetic surgery for his partner, purchasing a house and settling debts to Jordan Belfort, the so-called ‘Wolf of Wall Street’); and
- provided false information and documents to clients and third parties.
ASIC also found that Mr Howard had failed to:
- assist his trustee in bankruptcy by not lodging a statement of affairs;
- assist the liquidator of Meridien Capital Ltd, a company of which he was a director, by not providing a report as to the company’s affairs, not providing information as reasonably required and directed by the liquidator and did not produce the books and records of the company;
- comply with Notices served by ASIC to produce documents and attend an examination.
Mr Howard’s dishonest unauthorised use of the $1.8 million from clients led to ASIC finding that he was not of good fame and character.
ASIC Commissioner John Price said:
ASIC will take action to remove persons from the financial services industry to protect the public. Mr Howard’s conduct was particularly bad in that, on occasions, he preyed on elderly and vulnerable people.
Mr Howard has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.