ASIC roundup: Multiple frauds, and independence failure

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s latest actions and news, May 29 – 31, 2024.

Director permanently banned – May 30, 2024

Former director Christopher David Nairn has been permanently banned from working within the financial services and credit industries.

He falsified numerous documents by forging clients’ signatures and was then able to misappropriate more than A$650,000 ($429,525) of their funds.

At the time of the offence, Nairn was a director of Equus Private Wealth Pty Ltd and an authorized representative under Capstone Financial Planning Pty Ltd’s AFS licence. He was a credit representative of Capstone between July 2011 and December 2014.

Capstone is currently in the process of remediating affected consumers.

Auditor and firm admit to independence failures – May 29, 2024

Registered company auditor Robert Johnson and audit firm Hardwickes have accepted court-enforceable undertakings due to independence failures.

Johnson admitted to not having ensured that the audit of Consolidated Builders Limited was done in line with the ethical requirements that are outlined in the APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants. He audited the company for 32 years, which ASIC says created “a familiarity threat to his independence.”

Hardwickes was also found to have provided other services to the company which “further undermined Mr Johnson’s independence.”

Johnson has agreed to cancel his registration as a company auditor and will not re-apply.

Hardwickes admitted to having failed to set up and maintain a system that controlled its personnel’s compliance with auditing and ethical requirements. It has also resigned as Consolidated Builders’ auditors, and will have an independent expert review its audit practices.

“Independence is a fundamental duty of an auditor and we will continue to take action where registered company auditors fail to meet their independence requirements.”

Sarah Court, Deputy Chair, ASIC

Director disqualified five years – May 29, 2024

Andrew Liam Parry has been disqualified from managing corporations for five years due to his involvement in the failure of On Solar Aus Pty Ltd, Australian NBN Synergy Pty Ltd, Beem Pty Ltd, and BTC Mines Australia Pty Ltd – which all entered liquidation.

Parry acted as the director or officer of the companies between June 2014 and July 2023, and was found to have been a shadow director of On Solar from August 2020. He was found to have acted improperly and failed to meet his officer’s obligations when he:

  • did not maintain books and records to create accurate financial statements for all companies, and falsified books relating to one company;     
  • did not exercise his powers and discharge his duties with care and diligence, or for a proper purpose as a director of the four companies;
  • did not prevent insolvent trading by On Solar; and
  • did not provide assistance to the Liquidator of On Solar.

At the time of ASIC’s decision, the four companies owed a combined total of A$11,085,390 ($7,340,760) of which A$6,169,090 (4,085,180) was to 42 unsecured creditors.

Parry was earlier convicted and fined A$12,000 ($7,939) in December 2018 for breaching 530A(1) of the Corporations Act for failing to assist, and 475(1) for failing to provide a Report As To Affairs, (now known as a ROCAP), to the Liquidator of Synergy.

Former adviser banned following fraud conviction – May 28, 2024

Brett Andrew Gordon, a former financial adviser and director of Refocus Financial Group Pty Ltd, has been banned from providing financial services and from engaging in credit activities after fraud convictions.

Between 2015 and 2018, Gordon was found to be dishonestly using clients’ deposits to pay personal debts and expenses, and to pay company’s business expenses.  

He pleaded guilty to nine counts of fraud totalling A$652,500 ($434,517), and was sentenced to six years imprisonment with parole eligibility after 18 months.

DanFX Trade former director jailed for fraud – May 27, 2024

Daniel Farook Ali, former director of DanFX Trade Pty Ltd, has been sentenced seven years and three months imprisonment for fraud where he misappropriated investor funds.

Trade Pty Ltd operated as an unlicensed foreign exchange trading business. Between May 2016 and November 2017, Ali dishonestly used investor funds to buy a BMW motor vehicle for a personal associate, buying real estate for himself and his wife, and to pay personal expenses and returns to other investors.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud totalling A$771,303 ($513,694), and was sentenced to seven years and three months imprisonment, with eligibility for parole from July 5, 2024. He has spent time in custody since November 2021, which was reflected when setting the sentence.

Ali was earlier sentenced to two and half years’ imprisonment, suspended after serving six months in prison, for other unrelated fraud charges.

He was also permanently banned from providing financial services or engaging in credit activities in November 2017, and later permanently restrained from managing companies in July 2018.

Ali left Australia in May 2018, during ongoing civil proceedings, and was arrested in Poland in November 2021.  He was extradited back to Australia to face the charges in August 2022, and has been in custody since then.

Suspended AFS licence

Aurora Funds Management Limited – May 29, 2024

The AFS licence of Aurora Funds Management Limited has been suspended until September 20 after failing to meet statutory audit and financial reporting lodgement obligations for the company and its six registered managed investment schemes; the Aurora Absolute Return Fund, HHY Fund, Aurora Property Buy-Write Income Trust, Aurora Global Income Trust, Aurora Fortitude Absolute Return Fund, and Aurora Dividend Income Trust.

The company will now not be able to provide financial services, nor issue any new interests with its six investment schemes. It will be able to continue to provide services that are “reasonably necessary” for, or incidental to, the day-to-day operation of the schemes. 

ASIC news week 22

New Professional Registers Search

A new streamlined Professional Registers Search (PRS) will be launched in June, where users can review and search all of the professional registers databases with just one search.

The following ASIC Connect registers will be moved and included to the PRS:

  • Australian Financial Services (AFS) licensees;
  • AFS authorised representatives;
  • credit licensees;
  • credit representatives;
  • official liquidators;
  • registered auditors;
  • registered liquidators;
  • registered managed investment schemes; and
  • approved self-managed super funds auditors.

Another update will happen later this year, and include professional register extracts and documents.


On May 30, Commissioner Simone Constant spoke at the Australasian Investor Relations Association Annual Conference, and touched on the three principles for better compliance. She said that transparency, accountability and consistency are the three simple yet important principles to follow, and addressed what ASIC is doing against the backdrop of those principles.

ASIC Commissioner Simone Constant.
Simone Constant.
Photo: ASIC

“The strength of the Australian market lies in its transparency. Markets cannot operate fairly without transparency or without the free flow of information – and fairness, of course, gives confidence.”

“In conclusion, while the world we are working in is inarguably complex, compliance doesn’t have to be. When you look at your regulatory requirements, ask yourself three simple questions: Am I being transparent? Am I being accountable? And am I consistently doing what I said I would do?”