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Practice guilty on best-interest breaches

Advice practice NSG Services has been found guilty of breaching best-interests duty obligations.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) took the practice to Federal Court over failures by its advisers between July 2013 and August 2015, which involved selling clients life insurance despite them having group cover.

In what has been described as a landmark case, ASIC said the advisers did not undertake product comparisons, provide financial services guides, produce accurate statements of advice or obtain sufficient information from clients to warrant the advice.

Despite external audits identifying problems, none of the breaches were reported to ASIC or properly recorded by the practice.

The court heard NSG’s training on legal and regulatory obligations was insufficient, and it failed to monitor its advisers’ conduct or review their performance.

Two advisers, Adrian Chenh and Bill El-Helou, have been banned from providing financial advice for five years.

Other advisers cited in the case are Bevan Heneric, Van Trinh and Mustafa Ozak.

According to the ASIC adviser register, Mr Heneric and Mr Ozak have ceased providing advice, while Mr Trinh is employed by another dealer group.

ASIC has sought orders that NSG pay pecuniary penalties. The court will fix a penalty hearing date.

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