The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has obtained urgent interim orders against Alliance Insurance Broking Services (AIBS) and its sole director, Renato De Maria.
The corporate regulator alleged that De Maria caused substantial client money held by AIBS to be improperly paid into a bank account for his own personal benefit while as an Australian financial services (AFS) licence holder dealing in financial products, where AIBS was required to hold client money in trust.
The orders, on which the company agreed, would mean the interim asset freezing which would otherwise allow AIBS continue its ordinary business.
According to the orders, AIBS would:
- Restrain the defendants from removing or permitting funds to be removed from five AIBS bank accounts and one personal account held by De Maria; and
- Restrain the defendants from disposing of and/or diminishing the value of any property or assets held by, or in the names of, the defendants.
On 26 May, 2021, ASIC also filed proceedings in the Federal Court seeking the appointment of provisional liquidators to AIBS, but ASIC’s application was opposed by AIBS.
However, on 30 June, 2021, ASIC and AIBS agreed to orders, which were endorsed by the court and registered liquidator John Lindholm of KPMG was appointed by the court as the investigative accountant.
ASIC said that as a result of the orders, the proceedings filed by ASIC on 26 May, 2021, were adjourned. However, if AIBS would fail to comply with any part of the court orders, ASIC could recommence its proceedings to seek the appointment of a provisional liquidator.
According to the regulator, application for these orders was made to preserve assets for the benefit and protection of AIBS’s insured clients and insurance providers and any AIBS clients who had concerns about their policies should contact their insurance provider directly.
On 16 July 2021 ASIC clarified that the appointments referred to in the media release were made by AIBS as a result of an undertaking provided by AIBS to the Court.
The orders that were made by the Court included that AIBS file evidence of the appointments and other matters, including the receipt of $5 million which AIBS has now filed.