14th June 2024

Better business. Better community

Business Industry and Financial

ASIC Clamp Down on Super Fund Scam and Crypto Services

After
lengthy investigations, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission
(ASIC) has filed criminal charges in two financial misconduct cases. In the
first case, Joseph Cullia and Zoran Markovic were charged with offenses related
to an alleged self-managed super fund (SMSF) investment scam. In the second
matter, Aryn Hala was charged with providing unlicensed financial services
through his crypto-assets company.

According
to ASIC, two Melbourne men (Cullia of Southbank and Markovic of Coburg) were
charged with offenses related to the SMSF scam from November 2020 to July 2021.
The men allegedly operated fraudulent websites that promised high investment
returns. The sites improperly used the licenses of legitimate financial
companies without their consent.

Cullia was
charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud, two counts of money
laundering, and one count for possessing false documents and another for stolen
identification. The money laundering charges each carry potential penalties of up
to 25 years in prison.

Markovic
was charged with 13 counts of aiding the money laundering offenses, along with
possession of false documents, stolen identification, and equipment to create
false IDs. He faces up to 12 months imprisonment on the charges.

At the end
of last month, the regulator reported another Australian who, despite a 10-year
ban on operating in financial markets, managed to open five more investment
companies during this time. Even $8 million in financial penalties did not
deter him.

Fake 20% Return from
Crypto Investments

In the
second misconduct case, Hala of Redbank Plains, Queensland, was accused of
providing unlicensed financial services through his company, A One Multi
Services Pty Ltd. He allegedly promised investors annual returns of up to 20%
if they opened SMSFs and invested retirement savings into crypto-assets through
his company.

Hala was
charged with nine counts of operating an unlicensed financial services
business, each carrying a maximum 5-year prison sentence. He allegedly
encouraged retirement savers to transfer funds to SMSFs under his control.
Court-appointed receivers have been unable to recover most investor assets.

ASIC warned
about the exploitation of SMSFs by cryptocurrency scammers as early as the
beginning of 2022. It reminded that in the case of these funds, the ultimate
responsibility lies with retail investors.

Both Cullia,
Markovic, and Hala were released on bail. The criminal charges follow ASIC
investigations into suspected misconduct involving retirement savings. ASIC
warns Australians to invest retirement funds cautiously. The Commonwealth
Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting the matters.

After
lengthy investigations, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission
(ASIC) has filed criminal charges in two financial misconduct cases. In the
first case, Joseph Cullia and Zoran Markovic were charged with offenses related
to an alleged self-managed super fund (SMSF) investment scam. In the second
matter, Aryn Hala was charged with providing unlicensed financial services
through his crypto-assets company.

According
to ASIC, two Melbourne men (Cullia of Southbank and Markovic of Coburg) were
charged with offenses related to the SMSF scam from November 2020 to July 2021.
The men allegedly operated fraudulent websites that promised high investment
returns. The sites improperly used the licenses of legitimate financial
companies without their consent.

Cullia was
charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud, two counts of money
laundering, and one count for possessing false documents and another for stolen
identification. The money laundering charges each carry potential penalties of up
to 25 years in prison.

Markovic
was charged with 13 counts of aiding the money laundering offenses, along with
possession of false documents, stolen identification, and equipment to create
false IDs. He faces up to 12 months imprisonment on the charges.

At the end
of last month, the regulator reported another Australian who, despite a 10-year
ban on operating in financial markets, managed to open five more investment
companies during this time. Even $8 million in financial penalties did not
deter him.

Fake 20% Return from
Crypto Investments

In the
second misconduct case, Hala of Redbank Plains, Queensland, was accused of
providing unlicensed financial services through his company, A One Multi
Services Pty Ltd. He allegedly promised investors annual returns of up to 20%
if they opened SMSFs and invested retirement savings into crypto-assets through
his company.

Hala was
charged with nine counts of operating an unlicensed financial services
business, each carrying a maximum 5-year prison sentence. He allegedly
encouraged retirement savers to transfer funds to SMSFs under his control.
Court-appointed receivers have been unable to recover most investor assets.

ASIC warned
about the exploitation of SMSFs by cryptocurrency scammers as early as the
beginning of 2022. It reminded that in the case of these funds, the ultimate
responsibility lies with retail investors.

Both Cullia,
Markovic, and Hala were released on bail. The criminal charges follow ASIC
investigations into suspected misconduct involving retirement savings. ASIC
warns Australians to invest retirement funds cautiously. The Commonwealth
Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting the matters.

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