Wickham Securities auditor accepts ASIC life ban as NAB seeks to repossess founder Bradley Sherwin’s Wooloowin house

ASIC has cancelled the registration of Wickham Securities auditor Brian Kingston as it continues to investigate the collapse of the $30 million mortgage lender and the financial planning business run by founder Bradley Sherwin, which promoted its financial products.

Wickham Securities collapsed in December last year and is now in liquidation.

Self-funded retirees having invested $27 million in the mortgage lender through $1 unsecured deposit notes promising returns of 9.25%.

The money was then lent to what appears to be borrowers of last resort to fund commercial property acquisitions or refinance existing loans, at interest rates in excess of 20%.

Under an enforceable undertaking with ASIC, Brian Patrick Kingston of Bapaume, Queensland, has agreed to "never reapply for registration or perform any duties or functions of an auditor".

‘Mr Kingston clearly failed in his job,” said ASIC commissioner John Price.

‘ASIC will not tolerate inferior work and is determined to lift standards within the auditing profession."

Property Observer reported in January that investigations into the collapse of Wickham Securities by administrators PPB Advisory uncovered what appeared to be a bogus $10.8 million cashflow statement, one of a number of apparent discrepancies and irregularities. 

The administrators found that an amount of $10,779,835.47 said to be in Bank of Queensland bank account as of 30 November 2012 “was not available in the company’s bank accounts”.

At the time, joint administrator Grant Sparks and David Leigh said they were still waiting to receive a copy of the company’s books and records from Kingston.

Documents published by PPB Advisory since then do not indicate that this information has been provided to them.

This week NAB launched a lawsuit seeking to repossess Sherwin’s renovated 1910-bult colonial Wooloowin home (pictured below) in Brisbane's inner north, according to a report in the Brisbane Courier Mail.

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RP Data records show Sherwin bought the house, which is in his wife Deborah’s name, for $915,000 in 2008. It previously sold for $575,000 in 2004.

Overlooking Kalinga Park, the chamferboard-clad house has five bedrooms and three bathrooms.

In its latest statement, ASIC says that on September 27 2012, just under three months prior to the collapse of Wickham, Brian Kingston issued an unqualified audit opinion on the financial report of Wickham for the year ended 30 June 2012.

ASIC formed the view that, in respect of the audit, Kingston failed to carry out or perform adequately and properly the duties of an auditor.

In particular, ASIC was concerned the audit was not conducted in accordance with the Australian Auditing Standards because among other things, “an adequate level of professional scepticism was not exercised in auditing the recoverability of loan assets and assessing going concern, and reliance was placed on representations from Wickham management and directors without having performed appropriate audit procedures to corroborate or confirm those representations”.

ASIC is continuing to investigate the collapse of Wickham, and Sherwin Financial Planners Pty Ltd and related entities.

ASIC commenced action against Bradley Sherwin, his wife Deborah Sherwin and eight related companies seeking orders to freeze bank accounts and appoint receivers soon after Wickham Securities collapsed.

The eight related businesses, which include Sherwin Financial Planners Pty Ltd, were all placed in administration on January 24, with administrators from the firm of Taylor & Woodings appointed.

Sherwin has strongly denied any wrongdoing and says he is assisting ASIC.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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