- David Fuoco was banned from the financial sector for a decade.
- However, this did not prevent him from opening five new investment firms.
A decade-long ban from participating in the financial industry was no obstacle for an Australian who, during this period, established as many as five different investment firms.
Now, Joshua David Fuoco, a former Melbourne financial services director, is facing contempt of court proceedings brought by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
10-Year Ban, 5 Firms, and $8 Million in Fines
In 2018, Fuoco was banned by the Federal Court from operating or being involved in financial services for 10 years. However, ASIC now alleges that between March 2019 and April 2023, Fuoco carried on a financial services business through five companies.
The companies named by ASIC are State Advice Pty Ltd, Ansa Finance Pty Ltd, AFSL Group Pty Ltd, About Advice Pty Ltd and Advice Now Pty Ltd. Potential penalties include fines, asset seizures, or even imprisonment if found in contempt. The Federal Court will hear the allegations, but a date is yet to be set.
In 2018, the Court determined Fuoco contravened financial services laws and engaged in misleading conduct and unconscionable conduct. He and his businesses at the time were ordered to pay over $8 million in fines and costs.
The fresh legal action indicates authorities are closely monitoring the banned former director and will act if he breaches orders. The outcome of contempt proceedings could have significant personal and professional consequences.
ASIC Steps Up Efforts against Illegal Financial Services
ASIC has recently intensified its crackdown on illegal financial services platforms and fraudsters. In November, the market watchdog published its first "investor alert list" which identified 52 unlicensed entities and 25 websites impersonating legitimate companies.
Previously, ASIC published a "Companies you should not deal with" list containing only the names of unlicensed firms. The new investor alert list categorizes entities as either "unlicensed" or "imposter" and added 1,256 unlicensed entities from the old list, labeling them "unlicensed (legacy)."
In addition to the investor alert list, ASIC recently revealed actions against over 2,500 investment scams and phishing websites over the past year. This includes utilizing a new scam website takedown capability to remove 2,100 websites, with 400 more in progress.
ASIC's increased focus on illegal investment schemes follows the Australians who reported losing a record AU$3.1 billion to scams in 2022. Of that, AU$1.5 billion was lost specifically to investment fraud.
The institution has further extended the deadline for Australian Financial Service license holders to register affiliated financial advisers who provide retail investing advice. The new deadline is 16 February 2024, after multiple previous extensions.
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