Fed Court appoints liquidators to land banking companies

ASIC has announced that the Federal Court has appointed liquidators to two companies associated with land banking schemes in Victoria.

Following an application by the regulator in the Federal Court in Melbourne, Nicholas Martin and Craig Crosbie of PPB were appointed as joint liquidators of Bilkurra Investments and Foscari Holdings, which operated two schemes known as Hermitage Bendigo and Foscari.

ASIC said promoters of the land banking schemes used the two companies to raise approximately $24 million from investors, adding that its application was based on concerns that Bilkurra Investments and Foscari Holdings were insolvent.

The court found that the two companies were knowing participants in schemes that facilitated misappropriation of investors’ funds, and that Michael Grochowski, who ASIC banned from providing financial services, had day-to-day control of the companies, including their bank accounts which contained investor funds.

According to ASIC, the court found that the winding up orders were necessary to protect investors and to ensure there was some prospect of recovery of the monies lost after a full investigation by a liquidator.

ASIC commissioner Greg Tanzer said the court’s decision is another important outcome for the regulator’s “wider and ongoing” investigation into land banking.

“We will continue to crack down on these investment schemes to deter further misconduct,” he said.

[Related: ASIC muscles in on property investment schemes]

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