The Federal Court has made orders to wind up Askk Investment Group Pty Ltd (ASKK) and the illegal unregistered managed investment scheme it operated in respect of land at Lot 2, 615 Hume Highway, Beveridge, Victoria (Land).
The orders followed an investigation and subsequent application brought by ASIC.
The Court found that the scheme was an unregistered managed investment scheme, when it was required to be registered under the Corporations Act. On that basis, the Court ordered that ASKK and the scheme be wound up.
ASIC Deputy Chair Daniel Crennan QC acknowledged the Court’s decision to wind up the illegal scheme.
‘This conduct put substantial funds at risk for investors who were not afforded the protections of a lawfully registered scheme. This action provides an example of ASIC’s enforcement approach when consumers’ funds are put at risk by illegal schemes’ Crennan said.
Timothy Norman and Salvatore Algeri of Deloitte Financial Advisory Pty Ltd were appointed liquidators of ASKK and the scheme. Investors can contact the liquidators at: [email protected].
Download the Court orders and reasons for the decision
On 6 August 2020, a group of approximately 60 investors applied to adjourn the hearing on 10 August 2020 for the purposes of considering whether and how to respond to ASIC’s winding up application. Counsel for those investors appeared at the hearing. The Court refused the adjournment on the basis that it was not supported by any affidavit material explaining why the application had been made at such a late stage and the utility of any proposed adjournment.
From at least October 2017, ASKK raised in excess of $10 million dollars from more than 270 investors in relation to the Land. In December 2018, ASIC obtained interim orders restraining ASKK from dealing with funds in its bank accounts and other assets in relation to the illegal scheme ().
In June 2019, ASIC applied to the Court for orders to wind up ASKK and the illegal scheme it was operating in respect of the Land. The proceedings were defended by ASKK.
The original restraining orders were varied to allow for various payments to be made from the bank accounts of ASKK as part of ASKK’s defence of the proceeding and its proposal to “regularise” the illegal scheme ().
Refund of monies paid to Old Hume under sale of Land contract
The Settlement Deed reached between ASKK and Old Hume Pty Ltd (the vendors of the Land), dated 16 April 2020, requires that Old Hume repay all monies paid to it by ASKK under the purported contract of sale for the Land (). Old Hume has made the first payments of $3,257,479.43 and $63,559.97 as required by the Settlement Deed. Those monies will form part of the pool of assets available to the Liquidator for future distribution to creditors of ASKK. The remaining $9.75 million is due to be paid by 16 October 2021.
The Liquidator will:
- oversee the further payment due by Old Hume;
- call in the assets of ASKK;
- assess creditors’ and investors’ claims;
- make a distribution to creditors, including investors; and
- investigate the conduct of the directors and other parties associated with ASKK and the scheme.