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02/376g ASIC annual report - Tasmania
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) enforces and regulates company and financial services laws to protect consumers, investors and creditors. ASIC’s 2001-02 annual report was tabled today in Federal Parliament.
The Tasmanian office of ASIC had another productive year, with much of its efforts focussed on the protection of investors.
In September this year, Ms Julie Read joined ASIC as Tasmania’s Regional Commissioner after the former Regional Commissioner, Mr Simon Dwyer, was appointed to the position of Regional Commissioner in South Australia. Ms Read was formerly Assistant Director in the Hobart Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Tasmanian office played a significant role in ASIC's national investigation into the operation of Solicitors Mortgage Investment Schemes. This project is now near completion, with all Tasmanian schemes either transferred to a registered scheme, successfully run-out, or being wound-up under the supervision of the Court.
Enforcement actions have resulted in substantial funds being returned to many Tasmanian investors. Those actions included the appointment of liquidators to the mortgages schemes operated by:
- Piggott Wood & Baker;
- E.R. Henry Wherrett & Benjamin;
- Lewis Driscoll & Bull; and
- McCulloch & McCulloch.
The liquidators have orders to wind up the schemes and keep investors informed of the progress of their inquiries.
In June 2002, the Legal Profession Amendment Act 2002 received Royal Assent. The Act contained amendments that allowed the remuneration and costs of the liquidators to be paid from the Solicitor's Guarantee Fund, with the Fund having a right of recovery against the legal firm that was operating the Scheme.
Other results include securing payment of $260,000 in damages from San Miguel Corporation (San Miguel), in September 2001. The money was distributed by ASIC to 34 former shareholders of J Boag and Son Ltd's (Boags). ASIC negotiated the payment following an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the takeover of Boags, formerly a publicly listed company, by the Philippines-based San Miguel in April 2000.
Criminal enforcement action
Nationally, ASIC action resulted in custodial sentences for 19 corporate criminals.
Mr Ian Robert Frost, a former director of DJF Pty Ltd, was sentenced to three years jail, with a non-parole period of 18 months, after pleading guilty to 12 charges of fraud. Mr Frost fraudulently induced finance companies and banks into providing credit facilities of more than $1.5 million to DJF.
Mr Anthony Wayne Seymour, a Launceston businessman, was convicted and fined $2,500 in relation to two charges of operating an unregistered managed investment scheme and offering interests in the scheme without a registered prospectus.
Other enforcement action
Across Australia, ASIC took 81 civil proceedings against 140 people or companies. Court orders froze $45 million for investors and obtained $65 million in compensation orders.
Locally, ASIC conducted a public examination into the failed Blue Ribbon group of Companies. The examination was held over seven days and 15 witnesses were examined. ASIC is currently investigating suspected contraventions of the Corporations Act in relation to the collapse.
Stakeholder information and liaison
The Tasmanian office continued to provide information and assistance to business and consumers through public education activities, presentations and seminars.
The round of industry seminars dealing with the implementation of the Financial Services Reform Act, held in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie, was of particular value to local industry participants.
ASIC’s Tasmanian Liaison Committee, comprised of Tasmanian business people and professional advisers, continued to provide valuable feedback and assistance to ASIC during the year.
End of release