ASIC permanently bans insurance product referrer

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has permanently banned Tracey Joanne Burnell of Victoria from providing financial services, following an investigation.

The financial regulator’s current investigation considered conduct during 2014 to 2017, including the role of Burnell in arranging contracts of insurance when neither she, nor her company was authorised to do so. Her company Landlord Protection & Collection Pty Ltd (LP&C) was only ever permitted to refer clients to insurance brokers for the purposes of obtaining landlord protection insurance.

However, Burnell’s conduct went beyond that of a mere referrer in that she:

  • issued invoices to clients for insurance premiums on LP&C stationery letterhead (and in some cases inflated the amount of the premium required to be paid by the client); and
  • accepted payments from clients in relation to those insurance premiums into a LP&C bank account; and
  • on occasions, failed to pass on those payments of insurance premiums to the insurance brokers, with whom referral agreements were in place.

ASIC’s decision also found that Ms Burnell was not a fit and proper person to provide financial services because she:

  • provided financial services on behalf of LP&C without an AFSL or authorisation;
  • engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, or conduct that was likely to mislead or deceive, in relation to a financial product or a financial service; and
  • was involved in the contravention of a financial services law by LP&C.

The regulator’s Acting Chairman Peter Kell said, “Where people engage in financial services when unlicensed or engage in misleading and deceptive conduct, ASIC will ensure that they are excluded from providing such services in the future”.  Burnell is currently the director of Landlord Protection Group Pty Ltd and the previous sole director of the companies  (LP&C) (under external administration) and Protection & Collection Pty Ltd (P&C) (deregistered). ASIC previously banned Burnell in May 2011 for a period of three years for providing financial services on behalf of P&C when neither she nor P&C were licensed or authorised.

In August 2014, Burnell was convicted of a criminal offence for representing on two occasions that she was entitled to engage in legal practice when she was unqualified. With investigations still ongoing, ASIC also found that Burnell is not of good fame or character and is likely to contravene a financial services law.