Brent Smith, Fue Hiedi Mano and Mahmoud Khodr copped the charges in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday (16 June), over interest-free mortgages offered by their now-closed company Remedy Housing.
Remedy Housing was operated by Mr Smith and Mr Khodr as director and secretary respectively, while Ms Mano and former Samoan international rugby union player Trevor Leota were also involved.
Ms Mano and Mr Leota’s activities had included promotion to consumers, primarily across Pacific Islander communities in Australia and New Zealand.
It is alleged that between November 2019 and February 2021, the directors and officers of Remedy Housing, Mr Smith, Mr Khodr and Ms Mano dishonestly represented to consumers that:
- Remedy Housing would provide a consumer with an “interest-free mortgage” and title to a home within 12 months of payment of a deposit of at least $10,000.
- If Remedy Housing could not provide a home to the consumer within 12 months, the deposit would be refunded in full.
- Remedy Housing was financed by overseas investors, including financing from Mr Leota (Mr Leota has not been charged in these proceedings).
It is alleged that Remedy Housing had no investors or funders and that the funds acquired by the company were used to operate and promote its scheme, or transferred to the personal accounts of the company directors and officers.
Mr Smith has been charged with five offences of dishonesty, using his position as a director of Remedy Housing.
Mr Khodr on the other hand has been charged with one offence of dishonesty, while using his position as a director and officer.
Both men have been jointly charged with dishonesty using their position.
Meanwhile Ms Mano has been charged with 12 offences of dishonesty using her position as an officer of Remedy Housing.
The matter is being prosecuted by the CDPP (Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions) after an investigation and referral from ASIC.
The maximum penalty for each offence of dishonest use of position as a director or officer is up to 15 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $765,000.
ASIC moved to shut down Remedy Housing in June last year and had obtained interim orders and injunctions from the Federal Court against Mr Smith, Mr Khodr, Mr Leota and Remedy Housing.