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28 June 2003

Regarding Henry and His Ilk

RECA COMMENT – Denise Brailey. July 28, 2003

At last, on the weekend, the story exposing Henry Kaye’s antics and ASIC’s long term indifference to consumer protection. Jacqueline McArthur and Adam Shand’s article (Weekend Financial Review 26/7/2003 Chasing the Property Pushers) is just a peep through the keyhole of the dodgy property scammers. It’s time to break down the doors.

For years, when it comes to controlling the dangerous and misleading advice given at get-rich-quick seminars, The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (“ASIC”) has been a do-nothing regulator. A snail with brakes to the floor could not have gone slower when it comes to enforcement of existing consumer protection laws. Now ASIC has at last, after years of expressing meaningless concerns for consumer welfare with these hideous wealth seminars, admitted to having the power to take immediate action.

But instead of action in the form of prosecutions, our federal regulator has preferred a policy of monitoring rather than activity and “education rather than enforcement.” For over a decade, consumers have had laws to protect them from shonks in the Corporate Sector, but the regulator chose not to use them. The only legislative change should be in bringing real estate agents under the same federal umbrella of “enforcement,” as should every other profession connected with the property sector – without any sneaky and inappropriate exemptions.

Meanwhile hundreds of millions of dollars have been ploughed into these schemes by ordinary Mums and Dads, looking for a chance to get off struggle street.

Henry Kaye has been masquerading as a financial adviser/real estate and property guru, whilst ASIC assisted his aims by arguing jurisdictional mumbo-jumbo.

It has taken the efforts of Neil Jenman and Macquarie Bank’s divisional chief, Bill Moss, to effectively embarrass ASIC into activity. Perhaps. Enticing the watchdog giant out of its regulatory $160 million per annum slumber land, has taken several years. As a support group we have been fielding calls from aggrieved consumers around Australia.

Consumers have reported these instances to ASIC on many occasions, arguing the outrageous claims of the get-rich-quick seminarians were causing families grotesque financial difficulties and untold stress. Their money-back guarantees are all but worthless and are mostly misleading.

The schemers are running out of control and mere warnings do not assist consumers in understanding the risks in with dealing with these shonks.

Consumers need a National Inquiry into the real estate and finance sector – now.

Denise Brailey
National President
Real Estate Consumer Association (Inc)

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