ASIC has banned accountant Keith Douglas Bowker from providing any financial services for six years after an 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 ASX.
ASIC found that Mr Bowker applied for and sold shares on behalf of other people without their knowledge and/or consent.
Mr Bowker was also found to have 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.
He was also found to be 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.
Mr Bowker may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.
The conduct came to ASIC’s attention as a result of investigations of the provision of shareholder spread through artificial means.
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, referred to as 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.
According to ASIC, 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.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.