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12-15MR Former ARP Growth Fund operator prevented from participating in financial services, managing companies
ASIC has accepted an enforceable undertaking (EU) from the former operator of the ARP Growth Fund (ARP) permanently preventing him from working in the Australian financial services industry or managing a corporation.
Tony Maher, who changed his name from Paul Gresham, entered into the undertaking after an ASIC investigation found, among other things, he engaged in misleading conduct and failed to disclose conflicts of interest, resulting in him gaining financial benefits from various financial deals.
Mr Maher owned and controlled PST Management Pty Limited (PSTM), the company that acted as the investment manager of ARP. ARP was a managed investment scheme run by failed fund manager Trio Capital Limited (Trio). In this role he identified and recommended investments for ARP and its predecessor Professional Pensions Pooled Superannuation Trust (PPPST).
Maher received undisclosed payments of more than $2 million arising from investments he recommended for ARP and PPPST. In accepting these undisclosed payments Mr Maher created a conflict of interest for himself.
ASIC was also concerned Mr Maher engaged in misleading and/or deceptive conduct when valuing ARP’s largest investment. ASIC was also concerned that Mr Maher failed to undertake adequate due diligence in respect of some investments that he recommended for ARP/PPPST in circumstances where he knew that he had a conflict of interest.
ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft said critical gatekeepers in the financial services system like investment managers must do their job to ensure confident and informed investors.
‘Investment managers who engage in misleading and deceptive conduct will not be tolerated,’ Mr Medcraft said.
Mr Medcraft said Mr Maher’s exclusion from financial services and managing companies was the latest outcome from ASIC’s investigation of the Trio collapse.
ASIC’s investigation into the conduct of Mr Maher is continuing.
Trio collapsed in December 2009 after it was placed into administration by its directors. On 19 March 2010, the Supreme Court of New South Wales ordered that ARP be wound up.
As at December 2009, ARP had net assets of approximately $58 million. Investors in ARP included self managed superannuation funds, many of which had been clients of Mr Maher for more than 20 years.
The liquidator of Trio has been unable to recover the vast majority of the investments made by ARP.
For ASIC’s specific concerns about the conduct of Mr Maher download the enforceable undertaking.
Other Trio regulatory action by ASIC
ASIC has entered into EUs with former Trio chairman David Andrews (refer: 11-166MR), and former Trio directors Rex Phillpott and Natasha Beck (refer: 11-133MR), and Keith Finkelde and David O’Bryen (refer: 11-182MR). It has also accepted an EU from Kilara Financial Solutions Pty Ltd (refer: 11-122AD).
The Australian financial services (AFS) licence of Seagrims Pty Ltd has been suspended while its directors and responsible managers, Peter Seagrim and Anne-Marie Seagrim, have both been banned by ASIC from providing financial services for three years which was later reduced to six months following an appeal in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (refer: 11-134AD).
In addition, Shawn Richard, who was a director of the investment manager of the Astarra Strategic Fund, is currently serving a minimum of two and half years in prison after last year pleading guilty to two counts of dishonest conduct in carrying on a financial services business (11-169MR).