ASIC has commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against superannuation trustee OnePath Custodians Pty Ltd (OnePath) for allegedly charging fees for no service and making false and misleading representations to fund members.
ASIC alleges OnePath incorrectly charged over $4 million in fees to more than 18,000 fund members when it was not entitled to do so.
ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said, ‘Superannuation is important for the future financial security of Australians. Consumers must be able to trust they are being charged fees correctly by their superannuation providers. ASIC’s case alleges that OnePath failed to do so in this case.’
ASIC alleges that from 15 December 2015, OnePath charged financial advice service fees totalling $3,787,966.21 to 16,210 members who had been de-linked from their employer-sponsored superannuation plans. ASIC alleges that OnePath sent these members letters and annual statements until about May 2020 which failed to inform them of their rights regarding adviser service fees, including their right to terminate the fees.
ASIC further alleges that from December 2015 until about January 2019, OnePath incorrectly charged financial adviser service fees totalling $502,667.18 to 2,508 members who did not have a linked plan adviser. ASIC also alleges that OnePath sent annual statements to these members until about October 2019 representing it was entitled to deduct adviser service fees from their accounts and that they were obliged to pay.
ASIC claims that OnePath made false and misleading representations about its right to continue charging fees to these members, engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and breached its obligations as a financial services licensee to provide services efficiently, honestly and fairly.
ASIC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties and other orders from the Federal Court.
The date for the first case management hearing is yet to be scheduled by the Court.