Consumer Protection

Developer Settles Lawsuit Alleging Fair Housing Violations

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that Riverwalk Condominiums LLC (Riverwalk) has agreed to pay US$18,500 to settle allegations that it breached the Fair Housing Act for making a condominium complex inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Among other things, Riverwalk is required to make the complex more accessible, meet accessibility requirements, and pay US$13,500 to an individual with a disability who inquired about housing at Riverwalk and the Intermountain Fair Housing Council.
DoJ’s media release (17 February 2011)
(Source: DoJ)

Firm Ordered to Comply with OFT Requirements
Europe, Middle East and Africa

The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has announced that it has imposed requirements (undated) on Money Advice Direct Limited (MADL) following concerns about misleading content on the company’s website which led consumers to believe that MADL provided debt management solutions for free. Among other things, MADL is required to:

  • clarify to consumers that it does not provide debt solutions;
  • “provide consumers with adequate information about the service being offered”; and
  • make clear that it is not a charity or a publicly funded body.

OFT’s media release (22 February 2011)
(Source: OFT)

Directors Sentenced for Shareholder Fraud
Europe, Middle East and Africa

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has announced that former XN Checkout Ltd directors Edwin Dayan and Christopher Ford have been sentenced to jail for defrauding shareholders of parent company Torex Retail Plc and generating over £1.65 million in fictitious profits.
SFO’s media release (18 February 2011)
(Source: SFO)

South Australian Financial Advisor Banned for Life
Asia Pacific

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that it has permanently banned Trevor Carll of South Australia from providing financial services. Mr Carll, who was formerly employed by Port Pirie-based financial planning business Bruce McDonald Investment Services, is alleged by ASIC to have acted dishonestly and illegally in 2005 when he fraudulently caused two clients to sign third party security documents that resulted in the lodgement of over $900,000 of the clients’ retirement funds as security for a margin loan facility he operated. The clients eventually lost control of their retirement funds and suffered a financial loss of more than $50,000. According to ASIC, Mr Carll has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal against the ban.
ASIC’s media release (21 February 2011)

Related news items:
Investor Daily: ASIC bans Port Pirie adviser (22 February 2011)
Financial Standard: Adviser banned for life (22 February 2011)
(Source: ASIC; Investor Daily; Financial Standard)

Stock Manipulator Avoids Jail with Guilty Plea
Asia Pacific

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that Tamara Newing, the daughter of former Genetic Technologies Limited (GTG) chief executive Mervyn Jacobsen, has been sentenced to a term of 21 months imprisonment after she pleaded guilty to ten counts of market manipulation. Ms Newing was released on a recognisance release order on account of her guilty plea, with Judge Barbara Cotterell indicating that she would have been sentenced to two years imprisonment had she not done so. The charges arose from Ms Newing’s participation in the trading of more than 5.9 million GTG shares, through share trading accounts in her own name, and in the name of companies related to her father, Dr Jacobsen (whose trial will begin on 1 August 2011), and her husband, former GTG chief operating officer Geoffrey Newing (who was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment with a minimum period to serve of six months in 2010). According to ASIC, the transactions were likely to have maintained an artificial price for trading in GTG shares in contravention of s. 1041A of the Corporations Act 2001 No. 50 (Cth).
ASIC’s media release (23 February 2011)

Related news item:
The Australian: Stock manipulator evades jail term (23 February 2011)
(Source: ASIC; The Australian; Lawlex Legislative Alert & Premium Research