A former senior Commonwealth Bank financial planner who pleaded guilty to forging 33 documents over 30 months while working at the Broadbeach Commonwealth Bank branch on the Gold Coast has escaped conviction and been fined just $3,000.
Ricky David Gillespie was sentenced in the Brisbane Magistrates Court over the forgery of client documents yesterday after pleading guilty in October. He worked for CBA’s financial planning subsidiary, Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited (CFPL), and the offences occurred between January 2007 and June 2009.
Gillespie forged signatures of a number of the bank’s clients on documents, including applications for financial products and internal documents used as part of the CFPL internal audits, while providing financial advice. Mr Gillespie forged signatures on various administrative and compliance documents.
CBA subsequently reviewed his advice to 57 clients, and paid approximately $2.2 million in compensation to 33 clients. It also refunded approximately $88,000 for ongoing advice fees and interest, to 22 of his clients.
In November 2012, ASIC permanently banned Gillespie from providing financial services after he was found to have forged client signatures, provided advice to a client that was not appropriate in the circumstances and failed to comply with financial services laws.
The financial planning scandal at the CBA was one of the key arguments for a royal commission into the banks, which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced earlier this month.
Gillespie’s $3,000 fine with no conviction recorded comes a year after former ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft called on the Turnbull government to give the corporate regulator a tougher penalty regime so it will “actually hurt” anyone they catch.
Speaking on ABC TV’s Lateline in October 2016, Medcraft argued a lack of deterrents under the current law meant companies and their staff were willing to risk breaking the law because of the lack of consequences.
“Unfortunately, people are deterred by the prospect of how serious the penalty is going to be,” he said at the time.