The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) today announces that it has cancelled the Australian financial services (AFS) licence of Halifax Investment Services Pty Limited. The move is not unexpected as was placed into liquidation about two years ago.
The cancellation of the AFS license took effect from January 8, 2021, but the Halifax licence to continue on a limited basis until January 7, 2022. This, however, is valid only for the following purposes:
- ensuring that clients of Halifax continue to have access to an external dispute resolution scheme;
- ensuring that Halifax continues to have arrangements for compensating retail clients, including the holding of professional indemnity insurance cover; and
- providing financial services to retail or wholesale clients of Halifax limited to the termination of existing arrangements with clients.
The regulator explains that these conditions have been put in place so that the cancellation does not adversely affect past or current clients.
Let’s recall that Halifax was a financial services licensee headquartered in Sydney, with a partially owned subsidiary in Auckland, New Zealand.
On January 8, 2019 ASIC suspended the Halifax AFS licence until January 10, 2020. This followed the appointment of Morgan Kelly, Stewart McCallum and Phil Quinlan of Ferrier Hodgson as joint voluntary administrators of Halifax in November 2018.
In March 2019 at the second creditors meeting it was resolved to place Halifax into liquidation and the administrators were appointed as liquidators.
In December 2019, ASIC extended the suspension of the Halifax AFS licence until January 8, 2021.
Under the Corporations Act, ASIC has the power to suspend or cancel an AFS licence without holding a hearing in situations where the AFS licence is held by a body corporate that is placed under external administration, or that is being wound up.
The company has a right to seek a review of ASIC’s decision at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.