Perth-based accountant Keith Douglas Bowker will now have his six-year ban from providing any financial services reduced to two years, dating back to the start of the original banning decision on 2 April 2019.
Mr Bowker, who was a director at Somerville Advisory Group, was found to have provided a list of names at the request of broker Terry Gardiner, from the stockbroking firm Barclay Wells, to satisfy the ASX’s minimum spread requirement in relation to two initial public offerings.
The names, drawn from Mr Bowker’s family, his accounting firm’s staff and from among his clients, were ultimately found to have consisted of individuals who were not genuine investors and were merely put forward so they could be used to artificially satisfy the minimum spread requirements.
Mr Bowker did not obtain any cash benefit from providing the names and said that it was done on the basis of generating goodwill with Mr Gardiner in the hopes of future referrals.
While AAT deputy president Bernard McCabe agreed that Mr Bowker had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, he did not agree with ASIC’s view that Mr Bowker was likely to contravene financial services laws in the future.
Mr Bowker told the tribunal that following ASIC’s banning order, he lost all his clients, saw his business go into liquidation and was facing further disciplinary action from the Tax Practitioners Board and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.
“We accept his evidence that he has learnt from this experience and is unlikely to engage in similar conduct in the future,” said the AAT’s Mr McCabe.
“We also accept Mr Bowker is unlikely to be in a position where he would have the opportunity to breach financial services laws in the foreseeable future given his business has gone into liquidation and he no longer has any clients, and that he may yet face disciplinary action that could impact on his ability to practise as an accountant.”
In reducing Mr Bowker’s ban, the tribunal noted it was necessary to impose a ban as a deterrence measure, but argued that there would be “no realistic prospect” of Mr Bowker offending again.
“In the circumstances, we are satisfied a banning period of two years’ duration would be sufficient to achieve the protective, educative, confidence building and deterrent objectives set out in the act,” Mr McCabe said.
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.