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15-039MR Equity Trustees Limited and Como Financial Services each pay $20,400 penalty for misleading website
As a direct result of ASIC scrutiny Equity Trustees Limited and Como Financial Services Pty Ltd, both Australian financial services licensees, have each paid $20,400 in penalties. This followed ASIC’s issuing of infringement notices for potentially misleading conduct. The notices related to a website promoting the Good Super superannuation fund.
Equity Trustees Limited is a professional trustee company responsible for issuing interests in the Good Super fund. Como Financial Services Pty Ltd is the promoter of the fund, engaged by Equity Trustees Limited to provide marketing and promotional services, including provision of the Good Super website.
ASIC was concerned that consumers might have been induced to join Good Super because of claims made on the Good Super website offering to locate a consumer’s ‘lost superannuation.’ Consumers were also asked to elect whether to transfer all or some of the superannuation accounts found at the time they applied to join Good Super. However, the online search found not only ‘lost superannuation’, but in fact located all superannuation accounts held by consumers, including active superannuation accounts.
ASIC was also concerned that consumers were not being provided with relevant warnings about the rollover of their superannuation benefits from their existing superannuation account into a Good Super account, including that:
- fees (including exit and withdrawal fees) may be associated with a rollover
- consumers should consider where future employer contributions will be paid, and
- importantly, current insurance entitlements might be lost and consumers may not get the same type of insurance cover in a new fund.
‘ASIC will continue to take action where consumers are not given adequate information or may be misled’ ASIC Commissioner Peter Kell said. ‘This should also serve as a reminder to trustees that they may find themselves responsible for statements on websites run by third party promoters. Trustees need to ensure they take their responsibilities very seriously.’
Equity Trustees Limited and Como Financial Services Pty Ltd amended the Good Super website upon first being notified of ASIC’s concerns.
The payment of an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the ASIC Act consumer protection provisions. ASIC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.