What’s the worst thing your accountant could do? Give your money to a punter

Colin Oberg, a suburban accountant who invested tens of millions of dollars with one of Australia’s biggest punters, has been permanently banned by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission from providing financial services.

Oberg, who was a financial adviser and authorised representative of Wealthsure Financial Services, withdrew over $1.55 million of client funds between September 2007 and October 2008.

Oberg claimed to have invested client money with punter Mark Peters, who was himself bankrupt between 2006 and 2009 with debts of $80 million.

Oberg’s trustee in bankruptcy, Max Donnelly of Ferrier Hodgson told SmartCompany Peters’ bankruptcy was a result of debts to Centrebet from betting on horses and sport.

The money has disappeared but Oberg has said he expects it to be repaid.

“Why anyone would invest money with Mr Peters does not make sense, but Mr Oberg advises he was promised a good rate of return,” says Donnelly.

“I said in my report I found the whole thing incredulous and I still do.”

Donnelly held a meeting of creditors last week where it was resolved to apply to the Insolvency and Trustee Services Australia for funding to conduct public examinations of Oberg and Peters.

He told SmartCompany it is now a matter of whether the government want to fund the public examination.

“The creditors have lost enough money on Oberg already and I can understand they don’t want to put more in to fund the examinations,” says Donnelly.

ASIC found that Oberg acted dishonestly when taking funds from his clients’ accounts, was satisfied that Oberg was not a person of good character, and that a permanent banning was appropriate.

“There is no place in the financial industry for individuals who use client funds dishonestly and ASIC will act promptly to remove those who do,” said ASIC Commissioner Peter Kell.

ASIC was alerted to Oberg’s conduct by Wealthsure in October 2010, by which time Wealthsure had revoked Oberg’s status as its authorised representative.

Oberg has the right to lodge an application with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.

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