ASIC has permanently banned a former Commonwealth Bank-aligned adviser from Victoria for falsifying and backdating documents and falsely declaring to have witnessed signatures on death benefit nomination forms.
Anneliese Ada Willmott was an authorised representative of CBA subsidiary Financial Wisdom from 12 November 2015 until 10 August 2017.
In a public statement, ASIC said it found that Willmott had engaged in dishonest, misleading and deceptive conduct by forging client signatures, using false documents and back-dating documents.
It also found that Willmott had deleted records to conceal misconduct, falsely declared to have witnessed signatures on death benefit nomination forms and arranged for others to backdate and falsely witness these forms, and failed to provide statements of advice to clients.
The corporate regulator said that it had become aware of a common practice among financial advisers of witnessing or having staff members witness client signatures on binding death nomination forms without being in the presence of the signatory. In other cases, forms had been backdated.
Last week, Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers partner Clinton Jackson warned advisers that this would continue to be a major focus area for ASIC.
ASIC's investigation into Willmott's conduct followed notification from Financial Wisdom Limited. She has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.
In January, ASIC banned Matthew Geappen, also a former Financial Wisdom authorised representative for five years for life insurance churning.