Banned Sydney broker Athol Halvorsen has hit back at fraud allegations from ASIC, telling Australian Broker Online he is not to blame and is a “scapegoat.”
Yesterday, the watchdog handed Mr Halvorsen a six-year ban and cancelled the credit licence of Gearing.com, where Halvorsen is a senior manager.
ASIC claimed he submitted nine loan applications to St George and Perpetual, pre-GFC, that contained false and misleading statements regarding the borrowers’ income and employment.
However, Halvorsen strenuously denies the fraud allegations, telling Australian Broker Online the borrowers themselves signed the documents to say all information provided “was correct and true,” and the banks accepted it.
“These clients received an electronic copy of the application forms, from St George as part of their mortgage documents and they have to read it and sign it to authorise that everything in the application form is true,” he said.
Furthermore, he claims the information was provided by the financial planner, who was, incidentally, banned earlier this year for his role in the saga.
“When I’m with a client and also liaising with their financial planner – at their request – I trust, and they trust, the financial planner.”
“I wasn’t acting for them [as a financial advisor]. I was doing my job as a mortgage broker.”
He admitted the loans were low documentation for a property investment, although he had “no idea” what the investment scheme was, and it wasn’t his responsibility to know.
“As I said their financial planner lost their money, so now these poor clients, and I do feel for them, are just trying to get their money back.
“They’ve tried St George, they’ve tried personally coming after me, they’ve tried this and that, and the last resort was ASIC.”
He said ASIC bans of this nature will only increase in the near future, and the lenders should be held accountable for their role.
“ASIC will crack down. It will blow up in the banks’ face eventually, but I don’t think [mortgage brokers], the number one scapegoat here, will get any benefit from that.”