Edwin Goulding and “Peasantville”.
UPDATE MARCH 17, 2009. Ed Goulding was banned last week from giving financial advice for 25 years. A good result from ASIC on this one. For more details, click here.
by Neil Jenman
This is a story about a get-rich-quick (for him) spruiker by the name of Edwin James Goulding (or Ed Goulding as he calls himself when he’s trying to come across all friendly-like, meaning he’s trying to convince investors to give him their money).
Over the years, I have written many stories about spivs such as Goulding. Their methods are all similar – they target naïve investors with a series of puffed-up promises. They hold themselves out to be some sort of financial genius in possession of some sort of magic secret.
Despite their obvious sleaziness, they are superb at making themselves seem credible. They’ll use a fancy sounding company name, they’ll produce their versions of “proof” to show what appears to be an amazing record of financial success and they’ll claim to be ready to help you.
They make my skin crawl, especially this bloke Ed Goulding.
Investing with spruikers is always a risky business. And so is writing about them. They can turn nasty towards their critics. I have had all sorts of horrible threats from spruikers, although I must stress that I have never had any threats from Ed Goulding.
But then I have never written about Ed Goulding before today. And that’s something I deeply regret.
I should have written about him when he first came to my attention back in 2003. To me, he always had that stay-away stench about him.
I should have written about him back in 2004 when I was first contacted by investors who complained that Goulding had taken their money and wouldn’t give it back.
I should have written about him in 2005 when I saw his advertisement in the Sunday newspaper with the headline claim, “Learn the secrets of investing through structures that are reserved for the Wealthy and Elite”. Goulding was promoting what he called “an opportunity not to be missed”. He was holding a series of “investment forums” which, of course, was just the standard spruiking suck-’em-in series of seminars.
And, really, once I heard what Goulding was saying at his seminars, I should have issued a national alert warning investors to run for cover.
So why didn’t I? Why have I waited five or more years to write about a spruiker whom I always believed was a danger to the investing public?
The answer is that there are too many spruikers and too little time to write about them all. And, besides, after a while, I sometimes get sick of putting myself at risk. I wish the authorities with their multi-million dollar budgets would issue alerts about specific spruikers, not just general namby-pamby warnings.
Or maybe I was just too scared to write about Edwin James Goulding.
You see, Ed Goulding’s not just a deceitful sleazy get-rich spruiker, he’s also a martial arts expert. For 15 years, Ed – who’s now 46 years of age – trained and studied until he became a black belt in Hapkido.
Now, I have never heard of Hapkido, but it sounds very scary, like it’s Japanese for “chop critics up into little pieces”.
Which is sort of exactly what Ed Goulding has done to several million dollars that was given to him by investors. He’s turned their savings into chop-suey.
Ed Goulding had a company called Sydney Investment House Capital Ltd (sounds like an off-shoot of Macquarie Bank, which, of course, it’s not).
Early on, Goulding managed to convince The Australian Investor Online Pty Ltd to give him some plugs in a couple of articles that made Edwin Goulding sound like the next Donald Trump. He had global ambitions with dreams of a New York Investment House, a London Investment House – and so on.
Goulding started doing seminars to which he attracted many hundreds of investors. At his seminars, he denigrated lawyers and accountants creating the impression that they were all useless.
But Ed Goulding saved his greatest criticism for the ordinary Australian wage-earner. “I would not get out of bed to earn $50,000 and pay tax of $15,000. That’s Peasantville,” sneered Ed.
What – the young police officer risking his life to protect the Eds of this world is a peasant?
And the nurses who take care of the sick Eds of this world – are they also peasants?
What about the fire fighters, the ambulance drivers, the school teachers – are they all part of what Ed Goulding describes as “Peasantville”.
This is what so irks me with the “wealth creation industry” – anyone who chooses a life of service to the community is considered a fool; or, in Ed Goulding’s case, a peasant.
But what irks me even more is when those who have chosen a life of community service are induced to hand over a life time of their meagre savings to spivs like Ed Goulding – and then they lose it all.
In just over six months – from November 2004 until June 2005 – Ed Goulding raked in around $8.4 million from the investors by convincing them to invest in his Sydney Investment House group of companies.
A little more than a year later, all the companies within Ed Goulding’s Sydney Investment House were placed in liquidation following an order by the Supreme Court of New South Wales after the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) had taken action against Ed Goulding and his spruiking buddy, Steven Geagea.
“The only way to make money is to be aggressive,” Ed Goulding had told investors at his seminars.
Yes, and the only way to get the money back is to be more aggressive, something that rarely happens in time to save investors’ savings.
Late last month (November 21, 2008), Supreme Court judge, John Hamilton, found that Edwin Goulding had breached his duties as a company director and had “misappropriated $4.2 million of company funds”.
ASIC had alleged that money raised by Goulding was then lent to some of Goulding’s other companies “in a manner contrary to statements made to the public”.
In other words, Goulding said one thing (that sounded really good) and did something else (which was really bad). Typical spruiker.
So now, finally, more than six years since he was let loose on the public, Edwin John Goulding – the Kung Fu spruiker who says his heroes are Albert Einstein and Muhammad Ali (brains and brawn) and whose favourite book is ‘The Art of War’ – has been shown for what he always was: a dangerously deceitful spruiker.
But, as is so often the case, it’s a tragedy that dozens of investors have, between them, lost more millions of dollars.
The Kung Fu spruiker will be back in Court in February 2009 where the Judge will decide “what orders should be made” about him.
For a start, how about a lifetime ban on being able to raise money from the public?
Send him back to play his martial arts games but don’t let him play Kung Fu massacres with the savings of good hardworking people – those people from “Peasantville”.
There’s a place I’d like to see all the spivs like Ed Goulding go to.
I’d call it Prisonville.