Diversa Trustees taken to court

Civil penalty proceedings have commenced against Diversa Trustees Limited, after the corporate regulator alleged its former owner OneVue acted on behalf of Diversa to facilitate clients being put into products by an adviser that was being investigated for contraventions.

Nizi Bhandari, who was permanently banned by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in March, put clients into Diversa products via Bhandari’s company, The Australian Dealer Group.

ASIC also alleged superannuation trustee Diversa did not act efficiently, honestly and fairly because it failed to provide proper oversight of the activities of OneVue nor take appropriate action regarding the activities of The Australian Dealer Group and Bhandari involving its super fund.

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ASIC alleged between March 2019 and December 2020 Diversa or its representatives:

  • Were aware that ASIC was investigating a business run by financial adviser Bhandari for contraventions of the law;
  • Despite its knowledge of these matters, did not take adequate action and continued to allow Bhandari to put clients into Diversa’s super product; and
  • Continued to allow the payment of fees from the super fund to Bhandari.

ASIC said Diversa relied on “promoters” or third parties to run many of the day-to-day operations of its fund.

OneVue announced in December 2018 it would sell Diversa with the acquisition by Sargon being confirmed in July 2019.

This was the second case taken by ASIC against a professional trustee for conduct by outsourced service providers following enforcement action against Tidswell.

ASIC was seeking declarations and pecuniary penalty orders from the Federal Court and the date for the first case management hearing was yet to be scheduled.

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