ASIC announced yesterday that it had banned Perth-based accountant, Keith Douglas Bowker, from providing any financial services for six years.
The banning follows an ASIC investigation into Mr Bowker’s conduct between November 2016 and March 2017 when he applied for and sold shares, purportedly for his clients, in two companies that subsequently listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
ASIC found that Mr Bowker:
- applied for and sold shares on behalf of other people without their knowledge and/or consent;
- knowingly provided false information to these companies which was then provided to the ASX so that the companies could meet the ASX minimum-spread requirement for admission to the ASX official list;
- engaged in conduct relating to a financial product that was misleading or deceptive, or was likely to mislead or deceive;
- contravened a financial services law; and
- is likely to contravene a financial services law.
The conduct came to ASIC’s attention as a result of investigations into the provision of shareholder spread through artificial means.
Mr Bowker may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.
The ASX Listing Rules set out the minimum requirements that must be satisfied for a company to list its securities on the ASX. One of these conditions includes that a company must have at least 300 shareholders (the minimum spread requirement).
The purpose of the minimum spread requirement is to demonstrate that there is sufficient investor interest in the company to justify its listing. This operates to ensure some level of liquidity at the time the company is initially listed and keeps poorer quality applicants that are not able to attract sufficient investor interest to meet the minimum spread requirement from being admitted to the ASX official list.
ASIC reminds market participants of their obligations when acting on behalf of companies seeking admission to the official list of ASX Limited, pursuant to both the ASX Listing Rules and the Corporations Act.