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ASIC, Cryptocurrency

SMSFs warned over crypto scams

ASIC cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency investment scams trapping SMSFs with the promise of high returns have increased, according to ASIC.

Scammers are continuing to target SMSFs, with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) warning of an escalation in marketing about cryptocurrency assets recommending the creation an SMSF to invest in ‘high-return’ portfolios.

The corporate watchdog noted an increase in the number of advertisements suggesting Australians switch from their retail and industry superannuation funds to an SMSF to invest in crypto-assets or cryptocurrencies.

ASIC has advised trustees to be cautious regarding social media advertisements, online contacts promoting an investment opportunity, cold calls, text messages or emails recommending a super fund be transferred to an SMSF or investing in crypto-assets via an SMSF.

It recognised superannuation was an “attractive target” for scammers and crypto-assets were a high-risk and speculative investment, and advised “it is best practice to seek advice from a licensed financial adviser before agreeing to transfer superannuation out of a regulated fund into an SMSF”.

The regulator added anyone who was an SMSF trustee would be responsible for any investment decisions and should seek advice and be aware of their obligations when investing.

“As the trustee of your SMSF, you ultimately bear responsibility for the fund’s decisions and for complying with the law even if you rely on other people’s advice – licensed or otherwise,” it said.

“There are rules governing investments the SMSF can make and taxation consequences for investments, including cryptocurrencies. Any investment must be permitted under the fund’s trust deed and be in accordance with the fund’s investment strategy.

“When developing and reviewing your investment strategy you need to document how your fund’s investments will meet your retirement goals having regard to diversification, the risks of inadequate diversification, liquidity and the ability of the fund to discharge its liabilities.”

Late last year, ASIC shut down Gold Coast–based financial services business A One Multi Services, alleging it appeared to be engaging in unlawful activity after more than $2.4 million was transferred from A One Multi to buy crypto-assets.

At the time, ASIC obtained interim orders and injunctions from the Federal Court against A One Multi and two of its directors, alleging they told investors to invest their superannuation in an SMSF and then loan the money in the fund to A One Multi to gain annual investment returns of more than 20 per cent.

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