Former NSW adviser sees permanent ban upheld by AAT

ASIC AAT gambling NSW

14 May 2024
| By Keith Ford |
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The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has upheld ASIC’s decision to permanently ban Sean John Sweeney. 

This sees Sweeney banned from providing any financial services, performing any function involved in the carrying on of a financial services business, and controlling an entity that carries on a financial services business.

The corporate regulator permanently banned the former adviser after he was convicted of fraud offences in the Local Court of NSW at Hornsby on 4 November 2022.

Sweeney was authorised to provide advice between 17 November 2014 to 30 July 2018 and was the sole director of Sweeney Insurance Services, which was authorised from 17 November 2014 to 8 October 2018. Subsequently, he was the sole director of Swinsure, which was authorised from 1 July 2020 to 30 July 2020.

On 21 December 2022, Sweeney filed an application at the AAT seeking a review of ASIC’s decision.

On 26 April 2024, the AAT found that a permanent ban was appropriate as the fraud was blatant and relatively serious, and occurred in the course of Sweeney’s work in the financial services industry.

ASIC added that financial advisers “must act with honesty and integrity in their dealings with clients”.

“ASIC may ban a financial adviser if it has reason to believe that they are not a fit and proper person to provide financial services or that they are likely to contravene a financial services law,” it said.

In the AAT’s decision, deputy president Bernard McCabe said the fraud convictions stemmed from Sweeney’s “gambling problem”.

“Over a six-month period in 2018, he gambled away over $400,000 that had been paid to him in respect of his clients’ insurance premiums,” McCabe said.

“The unsophisticated fraud was soon discovered. He pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud under s 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) in 2022.”

He stated that he was “not satisfied it is appropriate to vary the delegate’s decision”.

“Mr Sweeney will undoubtedly be disappointed by this decision given the attempts he has made to reform and redress and given his cooperation with police. I acknowledge my decision will compound the hardship he has already experienced,” McCabe remarked.

“But I am satisfied affirming the reviewable decision is justified and proportionate given the magnitude of what he did in 2018, the need for deterrence and the need to promote efficiency and confident and informed participation in the markets.” 

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