Joint media release between ASIC and NSW Fair Trading
ASIC and NSW Fair Trading have jointly applied to the Supreme Court for orders appointing special purpose liquidators to investigate whether money can be recovered for creditors of the Youpla Group companies.
The liquidator of the Youpla Group entities is Mr David Stimpson of SV Partners. The liquidator has disclosed an association with a former legal advisor to the Youpla Group entities. The legal advisor also holds an indirect ownership stake in SV Partners.
ASIC and NSW Fair Trading are concerned that this relationship may give rise to a perceived lack of independence on the part of Mr Stimpson in any investigation of potential recovery actions that might be brought on behalf of the Youpla Group companies.
In making this application, ASIC and NSW Fair Trading seek to ensure that any investigations and recovery action on behalf of those companies are pursued without an apprehension of bias. The costs of the special purpose liquidators will not be paid from Youpla Group company funds.
ASIC and NSW Fair Trading do not consider that a perceived lack of independence extends to Mr Stimpson’s other roles as liquidator of the Youpla Group entities. Therefore, the application does not seek the removal of Mr Stimpson as liquidator of the Youpla Group entities, and ASIC and NSW Fair Trading expect that SV Partners will continue to deal with the winding up of the Youpla Group entities and the distribution of surplus assets to creditors including Youpla Group customers.
Youpla Group customers do not need to take any action. They should continue to contact SV Partners.
Seven Youpla Group entities went into liquidation between November 2021 - April 2022.
Three of the Youpla Group entities in liquidation are registered funeral contribution funds under NSW State legislation and their winding up is regulated by NSW Fair Trading.
ASIC and NSW Fair Trading have been working together closely to consider the circumstances that have given rise to this application. ASIC and NSW Fair Trading are committed to continuing to work together, along with the liquidator of the Youpla Group entities, to ensure the best possible outcome for affected consumers.
ASIC commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against ACBF Funeral Plans Pty Ltd and Youpla Group Pty Ltd for alleged contraventions of the ASIC Act in October 2020 (see 20-262MR).
The application was listed for directions on 7 November 2022. At that hearing, Justice Black ordered for a final hearing to take place on 8 December 2022.
Editor’s Note 2:
On 8 December 2022, the Court made orders appointing Mr Derrick Vickers and Ms Melissa Humann of PwC as special purpose liquidators of the Youpla Group entities with reasons to follow. Mr Stimpson remains the general purpose liquidator of the Youpla Group.