Sydney financial adviser pleads guilty to misappropriating $2.9 million

On 17 November 2020, Mr Ross Andrew Hopkins of Seaforth, NSW, appeared at the Downing Centre Local Court, where he pleaded guilty to 15 offences under the Corporations Act and was committed to the Sydney District Court for sentence.

The case against Mr Hopkins alleged that between 14 October 2016 and 8 October 2019, Mr Hopkins, the sole director of QWL Pty Ltd, made 167 unauthorised transactions for 13 QWL clients amounting to $2,938,750. ASIC alleges the misappropriated funds were transferred into Mr Hopkins’ own personal accounts, or accounts otherwise controlled by him, and used for his own benefit. ASIC further alleges Mr Hopkins made false representations about the nature of the unauthorised transfers to conceal his dishonest conduct and avoid detection.

Following ASIC’s investigation, Mr Hopkins was charged with dishonesty offences and then entered into an early guilty plea. Mr Hopkins has been granted conditional bail.

The matter has been adjourned to the Sydney District Court for mention on 18 December 2020.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting this matter following a referral by ASIC.

Background

QWL, which has held an Australian Financial Services Licence since 1 January 2004, provided QWL clients with financial advice including dealing in securities and advising on self-managed superannuation funds.

ASIC’s investigation into Mr Hopkins and QWL commenced in 2019 in response to allegations that QWL had failed to assist the Australian Financial Complaints Authority in resolving client complaints.

On 4 November 2019, ASIC obtained orders and undertakings restraining Mr Hopkins and QWL from dissipating assets or providing financial services to clients (19-300MR).

On 18 November 2019, ASIC obtained an extension of those orders until 25 May 2020, with a further extension obtained until 23 November 2020.

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