ASIC: Mark Thomas risks $340,000 fine or 5-year prison for dishonestly controlling van Eyk Research

Rick Steves

The Australia Securities and Investments Commission has announced that Mark Thomas, former chief executive of van Eyk Research, pleaded guilty to breaching directors’ duties. The financial services executive admitted to the court that he dishonestly used his position as a director with the intention of directly or indirectly gaining an advantage for himself. The matter […]

The Australia Securities and Investments Commission has announced that Mark Thomas, former chief executive of van Eyk Research, pleaded guilty to breaching directors’ duties.

The financial services executive admitted to the court that he dishonestly used his position as a director with the intention of directly or indirectly gaining an advantage for himself.

The matter will be before the Court for mention on 1 July 2022, at which time a sentencing date is expected to be set. The maximum penalty for this offence is $340,000 or imprisonment for five years, or both.

Scheme prevented third party from gaining control of van Eyk Research

According to ASIC, Mark Thomas dishonestly used his position as director of Blueprint Investment Management Limited (Blueprint), a New Zealand-based subsidiary of van Eyk Research, to facilitate an investment of nearly $5 million by Blueprint in a separate fund, the Wholesale Enhanced Income Fund. The funds were then loaned to another company, TAA Melbourne Pty Ltd to purchase an interest in van Eyk Research.

The goal, according to ASIC, was to ensure Mark Thomas would maintain control of the company’s affairs and strategy as the abovementioned transactions prevented a third party from gaining control of van Eyk Research, of which he was the CEO.

By doing this, Mr. Thomas used his position as a director dishonestly with the intention of directly or indirectly gaining an advantage for himself, said the financial watchdog.

ASIC sues ANZ for overcharging credit card accounts

ASIC has taken Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) to Federal Court for allegedly misleading its customers as to the available funds and balances in their credit card accounts.

Australia’s financial watchdog claims that 165,750 ANZ customers were charged cash advance fees and interest for withdrawing or transferring money from their credit card accounts based on an incorrect account balance, between May 2016 and November 2018. Moreover, ANZ has not adequately fixed the problem and customers continue to be affected, ASIC stated.

While the regulator admitted that ANZ has remediated over $10 million to customers who were affected up until 17 November 2018, the issue remains and more customers have been wrongly charged since 2018.

ASIC is seeking the Federal Court to order ANZ to compensate the customers who have been wrongly charged and haven’t been remediated yet.

The financial watchdog is also seeking declarations and pecuniary penalties from the Court and orders that require ANZ to implement a system change so that where a payment is made to a customer’s credit card account, it is not included in their funds or balance until that amount is cleared by ANZ and available to use without adverse consequences.

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