Financial adviser cops fine over ASX lies

Karen Sweeney
·2-min read

A former financial adviser has become the first person criminally prosecuted for dishonestly helping companies get listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Mark Damion Kawecki was fined $30,000 for his dishonest conduct, dating back to 2015, and is barred from managing corporations until 2025.

He could also be forced to fork out more than $300,000 it cost investigators to uncover his crimes.

The man from Frankston, in Melbourne's southeast, submitted applications for shares in three companies, each giving false information about the addresses of applicants, including himself.

A second application relating to two companies contained false or misleading information about the beneficial holders of the shares.

The rule breaking allowed the companies to say they had at least 300 non-related shareholders.

That's the minimum required by ASX listing rules, in order to prevent poor quality companies from being listed, and to ensure there's sufficient investor interest and liquidity in shares.

Kawecki received $47,700 in fees for his services.

His convictions mean he could be forced to repay the Australian Securities and Investment Commission more than $359,000 they spent investigating his wrongdoing.

County Court Judge Peter Lauritsen said the 45-year-old's first ban in 2018 over the offending received significant media attention, which had accentuated his shame and damaged his reputation.

He now works for his partner's tyre recycling business as general manager, a title the judge said sounded more important than he was.

Kawecki does not earn a wage and the couple are living off savings, he said.

He continues to trade in shares through corporate entities and his own name, which generates income for him but has $75,000 in credit card debt.

The judge said an expert found untreated ADHD was a contributing factor to Kawecki's offending, leading him to make impulsive decisions without regard for consequences.

Kawecki lost money on three investments, including the entire investment in one company.

It was said his undiagnosed ADHD caused him to "bend over backward to help people and not do the research into these investments one might expect".

Judge Lauritsen said it appeared people had invested based on their trust in Kawecki, rather than doing their own research.