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ASIC bans former accountant with long history of "persistent pattern of deception"

ASIC has issued a permanent ban to West Australian former accountant Arden Rodrick Wittensleger, 44, of Menora, disallowing him from providing financial services and engaging in credit activity.

Wittensleger was investigated by the Western Australia Police and subsequently found guilty of submitting fraudulent loan applications, which resulted in a benefit of $6.5 million.

He was convicted on 23 August 2013, on 86 counts of gaining a benefit by fraud, and in October 2013 was sentenced to an eight-year imprisonment term.

The West Australian previously reported that he submitted 86 fraudulent fee-funding loan applications between 2009 and 2010. This was to short-term provider Hunter Premium Funding. They noted that of the $6.5 million involved, more than $2.5 million remains missing. These were business loans.

ASIC noted a persistent pattern of deception to gain a financial advantage, with commissioner Greg Tanzer noting that the functions and duties of a person providing financial services and engaging in credit activity require honesty and integrity of a high standard.

“Those who engage in serious, repeated fraud have no place in the financial services industry,” he said.

Wittensleger has the right to appeal to tribunal for a review.

Mr Wittensleger has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.

In 1994, Wittensleger was also found to have been soliciting funds from clients for the purpose of share and property deals through a separate company who did not look into his dealings. The company, Personal & Business Financial Planning Pty Ltd had provided authority to Wittensleger to act as a representative between 1993 and 1995.

His business collapsed in 1995, owing debts of more than $700,000. He advised a number of clients to pay funds directly to himself, which he then misappropriated or used for failed investments. He was then sentenced to four years in prison in September 1996. At this time, 36 people had lost money.

The company said they didn’t know what he was doing, and so did not accept responsibility.

“Securities dealers and advisers have a high responsibility to know what their representatives are doing. Personal & Business, as a Victorian-based company, should never have appointed a Western Australian representative if it was not able to oversee his activities,” ASIC WA Regional Commissioner Jamie Ogilvie said at the time.

More recently, Wittensleger was involved in a development application to the City of Swan under, now liquidated, Nirranda Pty Ltd, of which he was director.

He had also sat on the Surveys QA board, a company that picked up clients of telephone marketing campaigner Vocon who were placed in liquidiation in 2004 with debt levels at more than $2 million. There were plans to investigate this situation in 2004, particularly as another call centre he was involved in, called AWDM, had also ended up in liquidation previously in 2003.

This article first appeared on Property Observer.

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