Avanteos imposed with licence conditions after charging fees to dead members

Registrable superannuation entity (RSE) licensee, Avanteos has been imposed with additional licence conditions after it charged fees to thousands of deceased super members by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

In an announcement, APRA noted that it had been liaising with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and that it did not rule out ASIC taking further action against Avanteos.

Avanteos charged advisor service fees to 2,234 deceased members between 2003 and 2018, and the total financial impact was more than $6 million. The case was referred to APRA in February by the Royal Commission after Avanteos self-reported the issue to APRA in May 2018. Avanteos had remediated all affect accounts.

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APRA deputy chair, Helen Rowell, said charging fees for financial advice to deceased members, whether intentional or not, was a breach of super licensees’ legal obligations.

“However, by imposing additional licence conditions, we are ensuring Avanteos is held accountable, and that any ongoing weaknesses in governance or internal controls are identified and remedied. That is especially important until such time that Avanteos has rectified the internal controls and weaknesses that allowed these breaches to occur,” she said.

“APRA has been liaising with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which continues to conduct its own investigation into these matters. We don’t rule out taking further action against Avanteos should ASIC’s inquiries raise additional matters of prudential concern.”

APRA has imposed a range of additional licence conditions on the firm designed to avoid such breaches from reoccurring.

The historic nature of these breaches meant APRA was unable use new civil penalty provisions under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993, which only came into effect in April this year.

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