A former NAB financial planner has been permanently banned from the industry after pleading guilty to misappropriating $2.3 million from a client who worked as a nurse.
Patrick Simon Mitchell, of Tasmania, was sentenced to eight years’ jail in March after being convicted of 25 counts of stealing in the Supreme Court of Tasmania.
The charges relate to money stolen through 25 separate transactions from a nurse who had accumulated the funds through inheritance and careful savings, the court heard.
The funds were moved out of her account over four years, during which time Mitchell was a representative of NAB’s subsidiary, MLC.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said the ban was effectively immediately.
“ASIC will act to remove people from the financial services industry who act dishonestly and breach the trust of their clients,” ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell said.
Approached for comment, NAB issued a statement from Garvan Financial Planning, the MLC subsidiary in which Mr Mitchell worked, saying it had alerted police and ASIC to the matter.
“Advisers must do the right thing by their customers at all times, but this was not the case for Mr Mitchell,” Garvan General Manager Matthew Fogarty said.
Mr Fogarty said Garvan was working with the victim to help compensate her.
It comes as the corporate regulator fights to reinstate another ban on a separate ex-NAB financial planner in the Federal Court in Melbourne.
Gerard McCormack, of South Melbourne, was banned for five years by the regulator last year after being embroiled in a case of “mistaken identity” in which he assisted a client forge false withdrawal forms worth $275,000.
Fairfax revealed in January that Mr McCormack instructed his client John Wright to forge his own signature in order to obtain the $275,000, which Mr McCormack believed belong to him but in fact belonged to another John Wright.
Mr McCormack tried to fix the problem without alerting authorities but was banned by ASIC in March last year for misleading and deceptive conduct.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal overturned the ban in December, deeming Mr McCormack did not have ill intent and did not benefit financially from the conduct.
In an appeal of the AAT’s decision, ASIC told the court Mr McCormack’s case, although bizarre, warranted serious consequences.
“The tribunal hasn’t looked at the conduct, it has looked at the circumstances,” ASIC’s counsel said.
It said Mr McCormack’s conduct was dishonest and that his banning was necessary to promote confidence in the financial sector.
“This is someone, a financial planner, who has deliberately deceived,” counsel said.
Mr McCormack’s lawyers told the court his behaviour was “genuine but misguided”.
“What separates honest and dishonest conduct is the intent,” barrister Rachel Ellyard said.
The AAT overturned ASIC’s ban on Mr McCormack in December, following Mr McCormack’s application for review.
While finding that Mr McCormack did breach the Corporations Act, it found that Mr McCormack’s concern was “solely for that of his client”.
His lack of financial gain and perfect disciplinary record prior to the incident was also taken into account.
Justice David O’Callaghan reserved judgment in the matter.
NAB would not comment on Mr McCormack’s case as the matter was before court.