ASIC obtains orders against Alliance Insurance Broking Services

ASIC has obtained urgent interim orders in the Federal Court against Alliance Insurance Broking Services Pty Ltd (AIBS) and its sole director Renato De Maria (the defendants).

On 14 May 2021, ASIC obtained urgent interim orders to:

  1. restrain the defendants from removing or permitting funds to be removed from five AIBS bank accounts and one personal account held by Mr De Maria; and
  2. restrain the defendants from disposing of and/or diminishing the value of any property or assets held by, or in the names of, the defendants.

The defendants consented to the interim asset freezing orders, which allowed AIBS to otherwise continue its ordinary business.

In support of its application for the interim orders, ASIC alleged that Mr De Maria caused substantial client money held by AIBS to be improperly paid into a bank account for his own personal benefit.

As an Australian financial services licence holder dealing in financial products, AIBS is required to hold client money in trust.

On 26 May 2021, ASIC filed further proceedings in the Federal Court seeking the appointment of provisional liquidators to AIBS. ASIC’s application was opposed by AIBS.

On 30 June 2021 ASIC and AIBS agreed to orders, which were endorsed by the Court.

The orders require AIBS to:

  1. appoint an independent sales agent to sell the business operated by AIBS by either 30 August 2021 or a different date set by the court;
  2. appoint an Investigative Accountant to inquire into and report on AIBS’s affairs to the Court and ASIC, and to monitor transactions made by AIBS on all of its bank accounts;
  3. instruct the Investigative Accountant to provide a report to the Court that investigates AIBS’s assets and liabilities, reconciles client money and other business accounts to identify improper activity, identifies affected clients and insurers, and identifies suspected contraventions of the Corporations Act by AIBS, its director, its employees and/or its agents; and
  4. receive an injection of $5 million into its trust account, by way of a personal loan from Lygon Finance Pty Ltd to Mr De Maria, to meet its ongoing financial commitments.

Registered liquidator John Lindholm of KPMG has been appointed by the Court as the Investigative Accountant.

As a result of the orders, the proceedings filed by ASIC on 26 May 2021 have been adjourned. However, if AIBS fails to comply with any part of the Court orders, ASIC can recommence its proceedings to seek the appointment of a provisional liquidator.

ASIC application for these orders was made to preserve assets for the benefit and protection of AIBS’s insured clients and insurance providers.

Any AIBS clients who have concerns about their policies should contact their insurance provider directly.

ASIC’s investigation into the defendants is ongoing. It does not relate to or affect other financial advisers or corporate authorised representatives who may also provide insurance services offered by AIBS.

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