ASIC has cancelled the credit licence of Money Choice Pty Ltd (Money Choice) and banned its award-winning director, Matthew George, after an investigation found failures to comply with credit laws, responsible lending shortfalls and instances of unlicensed SMSF advice.
Australian Broker contacted George, who politely decliend to offer his side of the story due to legal reasons.
"At this stage we are reviewing our position and are not in the position to comment."
However, George’s online property investment blog describes him as ‘an ambassador for property investment and a service provider…having made a small fortune...a $9 million property portfolio’. He's also listed as having won awards from various Australian aggregators and associations.
But ASIC says George, who is the sole director of the Melbourne-based property investment and finance business, has been banned from engaging in credit activities for eight years and from providing financial services for three years.
Deputy chairman, Peter Kell, says George demonstrated through his conduct that he’s ‘not a fit and proper person to engage in credit activities’.
“This included some instances where Mr George preferred his own interests to those of Money Choice’s clients. Mr George was found to have advised some clients to set up a SMSF for the purpose of purchasing property when he was not licensed to provide such advice.”
“We do not want to see SMSFs become the vehicle of choice for property spruikers and the action we’ve taken against Mr George should serve as a timely warning of ASIC’s intention to ensure compliance with the law. ASIC is committed to improving the standards of advice given to investors regarding the establishment of SMSFs and the investments within the SMSF, including investment properties.”
ASIC claims that, between July 1, 2010 and August 23, 2012, Money Choice brokered residential investment loans to more than 40 clients who had purchased a unit on the Sunshine Coast. ASIC’s investigation found in brokering some of the loans, Money Choice and George had:
engaged in unlicensed lending
been involved in organising loans from the unlicensed developer
given misleading information to lenders
failed to meet responsible lending conduct obligations, including failing to verify investor’s financial situation, and
failed to have adequate arrangements in place to ensure clients were not disadvantaged by conflicts of interests that arose regarding commission payments.
“Mr George did not competently carry out his duties as responsible manager and key person, and does not have the knowledge and skills to competently operate a credit business,” says Kell.
Money Choice and Matthew George have the right to lodge an application for review of ASIC’s decision with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.