The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has upheld ASIC’s decision to cancel the Australian financial services (AFS) licence of Olive Financial Markets Pty Ltd (Olive).
Between 2013 and 2018, Olive operated two Gold Coast-based financial services businesses. In March 2020, ASIC cancelled Olive’s AFS following concerns it had breached a number of its legal obligations.
Following a hearing in early 2021, the AAT found that Olive’s contraventions included engaging in unconscionable conduct, prohibited hawking, misleading or deceptive conduct, false or misleading statements, failing to provide appropriate advice and failing to act in the best interests of clients. The AAT stated these ‘problems went undetected – or were ignored – over a long period partly because of serious shortcomings in the compliance arrangements and complaints handling process’ and that this ‘bad behaviour went on under the noses of senior managers who manifestly failed to supervise those for whom they were responsible’.
Despite improvements made by Olive to its business and the AAT stating, at this point, they do not have reason to believe Olive is likely to contravene its obligations in the future, the AAT was satisfied that the cancellation of the licence was appropriate. The AAT noted the ‘serious and systemic’ contraventions that occurred over an extended period, stating ‘cancellation is the only appropriate option given the seriousness of that conduct and the need to deter similar conduct elsewhere’.
The AAT found that Olive did not comply with its obligations as an AFS licensee by failing to:
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- comply with financial services laws;
- take reasonable steps to ensure that its representatives complied with financial services laws;
- have available, adequate resources to provide the financial services covered by the licence and to carry out supervisory arrangements;
- ensure its representatives were adequately trained and competent to provide the financial services covered by the licence;
- have an appropriate internal dispute resolution mechanism; and
- do all things necessary to ensure that the financial services covered by the licence are provided efficiently, honestly and fairly.