In a show of leniency, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has retracted the lifetime ban on a former mortgage broker who falsified loan documents and deposit guarantees.
The tribunal reduced the length of the banning order made against Edward Richard George of Mudgee, New South Wales from a permanent ban to three years, backdating it from 31 July 2013, the date of ASIC’s original decision.
George had been permanently banned from providing financial services and engaging in credit activities after ASIC found he falsely completed five applications for deposit guarantees and falsified loan approval documents in support of those applications.
The appeals tribunal decided that George's conduct, while dishonest, was out of character and did not justify a finding that he is “not of good fame or character”.
Favourable character references and George’s apparent remorse were also reasons to reduce the ban, the tribunal said.
The ASIC investigation found twice between March and July 2011 George – operating under the name Quest Home Loans – falsified and submitted eight documents for four deposit guarantees and one home loan.
The applications were for George and four clients. The false documents included loan approval letters, employment letters and payslips.
George lodged an appeal for a review of ASIC's decision with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on 28 August last year.
The sentence reduction will come as a blow to ASIC, which has recently been lamenting its lack of enforcing power and meagre penalties available to it under law.
“It is frustrating – both for us and the public – when the penalty available to respond to misconduct is much less than the profit someone made in the process. If this is so, unscrupulous players in the market may quite rationally decide to make the trade by looking at the risk versus reward. And in doing so, break the law,” the commission’s chairman Greg Medcraft said last month.
“On setting penalties, behavioural insights need to be considered in what motivates people to break the law. Often this is the fear versus greed equation. We need penalties that incentivise the right behaviour.”
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