Killara financial planner and the sole director of QWL, Ross Hopkins, has been sentenced by the District Court of New South Wales to a maximum period of six years’ imprisonment after having been convicted of 15 dishonesty offences under the Corporations Act.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) found that Hopkins, who managed his clients self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) accounts and had almost complete control of his clients’ superannuation which allowed him to transact on their accounts, misappropriated approximately $2.9 million of his clients’ funds without their knowledge between 14 October, 2016, and 8 October, 2019.
According to ASIC, Hopkins also used his clients’ funds for his own benefit, such as holidays, rent, paying his own credit card debt and repaying personal loans.
“Financial advisers should always allow clients to have direct access to information about their own investments. If this is not occurring, clients should contact ASIC with their concerns,” ASIC commissioner, Danielle Press said.
“Mr Hopkins lied to his clients, and the Court’s decision demonstrates the seriousness of this conduct. Financial advisers must be open and honest with their clients and if they aren’t, they face serious consequences.”
QWL, which held an Australian financial services licence (AFSL) since 1 January, 2004, provided QWL clients with financial advice including dealing in securities and advising on SMSFs.
ASIC’s investigation into Hopkins and QWL commenced in 2019 in response to allegations that QWL had failed to assist the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) in resolving client complaints.