Cairns pawnbroker, Cash Lenders Pty Ltd (Cash Lenders) and former director Colin Hulbert have been charged in relation to engaging in credit activity without a licence.
Mr Hulbert has also been charged with engaging in conduct that contravened an order banning him from engaging in any credit activities.
ASIC alleges between July 2015 and May 2020 Mr Hulbert and Cash Lenders issued pawn tickets which were in fact credit contracts as they included a term allowing Cash Lenders to take debt recovery action against customers for any unpaid debts.
Mr Hulbert, a former director of Cash Lenders, later became an employee at Cash Lenders where his wife remains a director.
Both Mr Hulbert and Cash Lenders have also been charged in relation to altering books which were supplied to ASIC in respect of its investigation.
The matters were heard in the Cairns Magistrates Court on 18 April 2023 and are adjourned to 13 June 2023.
The matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions following an investigation by ASIC.
In 2017, Mr Hulbert was ordered to pay a pecuniary penalty of $220,000 for breaches of consumer credit laws following a proceeding brought by ASIC in the Federal Court (17-108MR).
Mr Hulbert was then permanently banned from engaging in credit activities in June 2018 (18-177MR) for failing to comply with his obligations under credit legislation, in that:
- he was knowingly involved in 73 contraventions of credit legislation.
- three companies of which Mr Hulbert was the sole director were found to have contravened legislative requirements applicable to participants in the credit industry.
- he demonstrated a disregard for the requirements of the credit legislation.
- he demonstrated a history of failure to comply with the legislative requirements applicable to participants in the credit industry.
Businesses or persons engaged in the provision of credit to consumers are required to hold an Australian Credit Licence, must comply with the National Credit Act and are regulated by ASIC. Pawnbrokers are exempt from these requirements on the basis that their only recourse, should a consumer default on their pawnbroking agreement, is to sell the consumer's pawned goods.
The Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN) first brought ASIC’s attention to the conduct that led to the charges in the Cairns Magistrates’ Court. ICAN provides financial counselling services to Indigenous consumers in North QLD.
Moneysmart helps Australians take control of their money with free tools, tips and guidance. Check your options before you sign up for a cash loan.
ASIC also offers a dedicated help line to assist Indigenous consumers with financial issues (Phone: 1300 365 957).
Pawnbroking in Queensland is regulated by the Queensland Office of Fair Trading under the Second-hand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Act 2003 (Qld).
Editor’s note 1:
The mention listed for 13 June 2023 has been rescheduled to 20 June 2023.
Editor’s note 2:
On 20 June 2023, the matter was listed for a mention on 18 July 2023.
Editor’s Note 3:
On 18 July 2023, the matter was listed for a mention on 20 September 2023.