Federal Court makes declarations against CFS on MySuper
Colonial First State Investments has been hit with a Federal Court declaration that it made false or misleading representations to members of the CFS FirstChoice Superannuation Trust.
The Federal Court declarations follow action initiated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and related to issues which occurred between 2014 and 2016.
The Court declared that on at least 12,978 occasions, in communication with members of the FirstChoice Fund, Colonial made misleading representations regarding investment directions.
It said the misleading representations may have encouraged members to stay with the FirstChoice Fund rather than move to the MySuper product.
“The misleading or deceptive conduct by Colonial included telling its members that recent legislative changes required Colonial to contact them and obtain an investment direction to stay in the FirstChoice Fund when that was not the case. Colonial also failed to tell members that if Colonial did not receive an investment direction from the member, it was required to transfer the member’s superannuation contributions into a MySuper product.”
Commenting on the outcome, ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said ‘Superannuation fund members need to receive clear and accurate information to make informed decisions. ASIC alleged Colonial made misleading representations which may have impacted members’ decisions about where to keep their funds and may have resulted in members’ funds being kept in higher fee-paying super products that included commissions. These actions did not put members’ interests first.’
The Court declared that Colonial, between 18 March 2014 and 21 July 2016:
- engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by sending 12,911 letters to members containing misleading representations about investment directions;
- made false or misleading representations and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in 70 calls to members about investment directions;
- failed to provide a ‘general advice warning,’ as required by the Corporations Act, in 17 calls to members; and
- failed to do all things necessary to ensure the financial services covered by its financial services licence were provided efficiently, honestly and fairly.
ASIC said Colonial consented to these declarations being made and noted that a penalty hearing has been listed for 12 October 2021.