Following an application by ASIC, the Federal Court has ordered the appointment of provisional liquidators to Ascent Investment and Coaching Pty Ltd (Ascent).
The Court outcome follows ASIC action against Ascent and its director, Michael Dunjey, where ASIC suspected that Ascent had been providing financial services without an Australian financial services licence and had been operating an unregistered managed investment scheme that was required to be registered (21-352MR).
ASIC's action sought to protect the assets of Ascent and its clients following concerns that:
- Ascent is producing little business-generated revenue and is being sustained almost entirely through borrowings;
- Ascent’s primary means to make payments on loans is money it receives from further loans;
- Ascent has substantial liabilities in comparison to its assets;
- Ascent’s financial records are inaccurate and incorrect.
As of December 2021, when freezing orders were obtained, Ascent owed approximately $149 million to clients and held approximately $4 million in assets.
The Court appointed Matthew Donnelly and Sean Holmes of Deloitte Financial Advisory as provisional liquidators and made orders for a report to be provided to the Court by 22 June 2022, including information about:
- the assets and liabilities of Ascent;
- an opinion as to the solvency of Ascent;
- the likely return to creditors if Ascent was wound up;
- an opinion as to whether the Ascent has kept adequate and accurate financial records.
The matter is set to return to Court for a hearing on 29 and 30 June regarding the winding up of Ascent and appointment of liquidators.
ASIC’s investigation of Ascent and Mr Dunjey is continuing.
Any person who is concerned they have invested with Ascent can contact ASIC at Ascent.Investigation@asic.gov.au
On 13 December 2021, the Federal Court made orders freezing the assets of Ascent and its director, Micheal Dunjey, who was also ordered to surrender his passport and be restrained from departing Australia.
On 20 December 2021, those orders were extended by consent until further order (21-352MR).
On 1 March 2022, ASIC made an application to the Federal Court to wind up Ascent and for the appointment of provisional liquidators to Ascent (22-036MR).
The Federal Court heard ASIC’s application to wind up Ascent on 29 & 30 June. At the conclusion of the hearing, Justice Feutrill reserved judgment.