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18-394MR ASIC acts to freeze funds in land banking scheme
The Federal Court of Australia made interim orders on 20 December 2018 restraining Askk Investment Group Pty Ltd (Askk) from dealing with funds in their bank accounts in relation to a suspected land banking scheme. Askk is also restrained from selling or otherwise dealing in the property which is the subject of the land banking scheme.
Askk has an interest in land located in Lot 2, 615 Hume Highway Beveridge, Victoria.
ASIC suspects that since October 2017, Askk has raised in excess of $10 million dollars from more than 270 investors in relation the land, and since this time, investors have been making ongoing payments in respect of their investment.
ASIC is concerned that Askk:
- may be operating an unregistered managed investment scheme (MIS);
- may be carrying on a financial services business in relation to the promotion and operation of an unregistered MIS without holding an Australian Financial Service Licence; and
- may have engaged in conduct that is misleading or deceptive during the promotion of the scheme to investors.
ASIC’s investigation is ongoing. The freezing orders remain in place until the next hearing date on 8 February 2019.
Further information on land banking is located on ASIC's MoneySmart website. If investors have any questions regarding ASIC’s investigation, they can contact ASIC on 1300 300 630.
Download the Court Orders
Download ASIC’s Originating Process
The matter returns to Court for a directions hearing on 18 April 2019. Orders made by consent of the parties on 7 February and 14 February, 13 March and 8 April 2019 extended the freezing orders with some limited exceptions.
Editor's note 2:
The matter is next listed for directions in the Federal Court on 23 May 2019.
Editor’s note 3:
The Federal Court made further directions on 23 May 2019 programming the matter to a hearing on 22 and 23 October 2019.
Download the Court Orders dated 23 May 2019.
Editor's note 4:
The Federal Court has made further orders allowing for certain payments relating to the property which is the subject of the land banking scheme and varying the time for the filing of any affidavits by Askk.
More information for investors is here.
Editor’s note 5:
The hearing previously listed for 23 and 24 October 2019 has been vacated. Orders were made on 11 October 2019 for a mediation to be held on or before 12 December 2019 and a case management hearing on 13 December 2019.
View the orders of the Court dated 11 October 2019.
Editor’s note 6:
On 22 November 2019 the Court made orders by consent allowing for the amount of $97,933.43 to be released from the bank accounts of Askk for the payment of half of its outstanding and future legal costs (up to 13 December 2019). The orders also provide that the balance of the legal costs of $97,933.43 are to be paid by way of a loan from the directors to Askk, which is subordinated to the interests of investors. A link to the Court orders can be found here.
A mediation between the parties was held on 6 December 2019 which has been adjourned indefinitely. The Court has also vacated the case management hearing listed on 13 December 2019 and made orders for the further steps to be taken in this matter. The next Court date is 24 April 2020. A link to the orders dated 12 December 2019 is here.
Editor’s note 7:
On 14 April 2020, at the request of Askk Investment Group Pty Ltd (Askk), the Court made orders by consent to vary the freezing orders to:
- allow ASKK to avoid the contract of sale dated 3 October 2017 in relation to ASKK’s purported purchase of the property at Lot 2, 615 Hume Highway, Beveridge (Contract of Sale) entered into with Old Hume Pty Ltd (Old Hume); and
- to enter into a settlement deed with Old Hume in the form annexed to the orders (Settlement Deed).
ASIC has been provided with a signed copy of the Settlement Deed dated 16 April 2020.
Clause 5 of the Settlement Deed provides that ASKK is entitled to avoid the Contract of Sale and reclaim all monies which it has paid to Old Hume to date pursuant to the Contract of Sale (Reclaimed Monies). The Settlement Deed provides Old Hume is to pay the Reclaimed Monies as follows:
- The sum of $3,257,479.43 on or before 60 days from the date of the Settlement Deed;
- The sum of $63,559.97 on or before 60 days from the date of the Settlement Deed; and
- The balance, being $9,750,000, by one or more instalments, as soon as practicable, but in any even within 18 months from the date of the Settlement Deed.
The Reclaimed Monies are to be held in a bank account subject to ongoing freezing Court orders, and cannot be disbursed without further orders of the Court.
The next Court date in this matter is 4 June 2020.
Download a copy of the orders dated 14 April 2020 which include a copy of the Settlement Deed.
Editor’s note 8:
The case management hearing on 4 June 2020 was vacated and orders by consent were subsequently made on 18 June 2020 for the necessary pre-hearing steps. The Court is yet to set a date for the future hearing of the matter.
The 18 June orders also included a variation of the freezing orders to allow for payment of Mills Oakley’s anticipated legal fees and disbursements of and incidental to:
- The defendant defending the proceeding in the sum of $15,000; and
- Any interlocutory application by the defendant for access to restrained funds in the sum of $14,000.
Download a copy of the orders dated 18 June 2020.
Editor's note 9:
The Court has listed the matter for hearing at 10:15am on 10 August 2020.