ASIC has permanently banned a former Westpac Bank home finance manager from engaging in credit activities and providing financial services.
David St Pierre, of Mt Nathan, Queensland, was a home finance manager for the bank between September 2000 and April 2011.
An ASIC investigation found that between July 2008 and June 2010, St Pierre submitted loan applications to Westpac for approval when he knew that they contained false information and were supported by false documents.
He also failed to prepare an authority that accurately identified the payee of a cheque. This meant a customer cheque for $215,000 was paid into the personal trading account of a non-office holder of Capital Growth International Club (CGIC).
St Pierre enabled and encouraged customers to borrow funds from Westpac and earned cash bonuses on the loans, in addition to his base salary, despite knowing that they were elderly, a pensioner, a carer or suffering from a disability, and would not be able to repay the loan if the scheme failed, ASIC said.
The 12 customers to whom the loan applications related had limited financial means, yet in spite of this St Pierre encouraged them to borrow against their homes, some of which were unencumbered, to invest in the scheme, ASIC said.
The customers received monthly interest payments from the scheme – which promised returns of 15-25% per annum – after they invested however the interest payments stopped shortly before a liquidator was appointed to CGIC and the real estate arm of CGIC, All About Property Developments.
This left the customers without sufficient income with which to repay their loans to Westpac.
Therefore ASIC has decided St Pierre is not a “fit and proper person” to engage in credit activities and is not of “good fame or character” – an unsuitable person to provide financial services.
ASIC commissioner Peter Kell said the man’s misconduct was very serious.
“ASIC will ban people from the finance industry who act dishonestly and place personal interests ahead of those they service. Mr St Pierre's actions exposed vulnerable members of the community to severe financial loss and hardship.”
St Pierre has the right to seek a review of ASIC’s decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
ASIC is working with Westpac to ensure that affected customers are appropriately compensated.
The investigations, including consideration of final compensation arrangements, are ongoing.