ASIC roundup: Imprisonment for misleading share trading

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s latest actions and news, April 22 – 26, 2024.

Adviser Adele Baaini permanently banned – April 26, 2024

Financial adviser Adele Baaini has been permanently banned from providing any services, controlling an entity or performing a function within the credit and financial services industries.

Baaini was found engaging in dishonest conduct, and to not be a fit and proper person to provide financial services when she provided:

  • AAN Wealth Management Pty Ltd with a falsified Financial Adviser Exam certificate; and
  • personal advice to 121 clients without meeting the prescribed education and training standard.

Order to stop Centrepay’a credit arrangements – April 26, 2024

After an interim stop orderCoral Coast Distributors (Cairns) Pty Ltd has now been issued a final stop order, preventing it signing up customers into Centrepay credit arrangements in its Urban Rampage stores. This is a first ever final stop order under the design and distribution obligations regime.

The company targeted First Nations consumers who received Centrelink payments, and ASIC found its arrangements unsuitable and risky.

“It is unacceptable for businesses to use credit-like facilities in a way that places vulnerable customers into hardship.”

Alan Kirkland, Commissioner

Court updates

Henry Eng Chye Heng sentenced to 18 months in prison – April 22, 2024

Henry Eng Chye Heng, the founder of listed bottled water producer Eneco Refresh, has been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for market manipulation, and for creating a false or misleading appearance of active trading.

Heng was found using share trading accounts to manipulate the share price of Eneco on 24 occasions between December 18, 2020, and December 15, 2021 – ccounts that were held in the names of his family. He was also found using set accounts to make trades that created a false or misleading appearance of active trading in Eneco on two occasions in 2021.

In December 2023, Heng pleaded guilty to one count of market manipulation and one count of creating a false or misleading appearance of active trading.

Former director charged with breaching his duties – April 22, 2024

Benjamin Thomas Molloy has been charged with one count of breaching his duties as a director pursuant to section 184(2)(a) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and five counts of making false statements to ASIC pursuant to section 1308(2).

Allegedly, between September 2019 and July 2021, Molloy dishonestly used his director’s position at Consultel Cloud Pty Ltd (in liquidation) by causing the sale proceeds of a motor vehicle asset to be redirected to Consultel Group Pty Ltd where he also was a director (also in liquidation). He also allegedly made five false statements in forms that were lodged with ASIC.

Cancelled AFS licence

The Australian Financial Services licence has been cancelled for JB Markets Pty Ltd after it failed to:

  • comply with the financial requirements of the licence; and
  • have proper resources to provide the services under the licence; and
  • carry out supervisory arrangements.

For the financial years 2019 to 2022, the company was found not to have a net deficiency of assets over liabilities, and failed to meet financial holding requirements.

ASIC news week 17


In a keynote speech at the Deakin Law School International Sustainability Reporting Forum on April 22, Chair Joe Longo addressed the “ambitious new once-in-a-generation change” with the new mandatory climate disclosure regime.

He said that many larger entities already have been preparing for this, and close to 75% of the ASX200 have already committed to or are voluntarily reporting climate-related information in relations to the TCFD framework (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures). Yet, many have not, and were advised to start preparing for it now.

“This is a crucial point: you have to do this now. It’s simply not an option to put this off until after legislation has passed, and then scramble to comply,” Longo said.

March 2024 financial adviser exam results

In the exam from the 24th Financial Advisers Exam cycle:

  • 298 people sat the exam;
  • 70% (210) passed; and
  • 77% (230) took the exam for the first time.

To date, 21,102 candidates have taken the exam, and over 19,527 (92%) have passed it.

No-action position on financial reporting obligations

After stakeholder feedback, a no-action position has been adopted on the reporting obligations of special purpose financing subsidiaries and their guarantors. That includes subsidiaries or other wholly-owned subsidiaries that “issue debentures to sophisticated or professional investors and their guarantors” that may have been relying on relief under the Instrument 2016/785.

Under the instrument, certain entities may be relieved from the reporting obligations under Chapter 2M of the Corporations Act 2001, and ASIC will not take enforcement action against them for not preparing or lodging annual reports.

‘Borrowers in relation to debentures’ and ‘a guarantor of such a borrower’ are excluded from relief.