Property spotlight: Politicians lash out at spruiker

by AB03 Oct 2015
Federal politicians have lashed out at one of Australia’s most well-known property spruikers.

Appearing before a senate inquiry into land banking schemes, spruiker Jamie McIntyre drew the ire of Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Labor Senator Sam Dastyari.

According to a Fairfax report, Senator Dastyari called McIntyre a “conman” during the hearing, while Senator Xenophon was less than impressed with McIntyre’s conduct.

"In my seven years in the Senate, you would have to be the most evasive witness I have had to deal with and that's saying something,” Senator Xenophon said.

McIntyre’s appearance at the senate committee is in his relation to his involvement in land banking schemes.  

McIntyre and his company 21st Century Group are currently the subject of an ASIC investigation into five land-banking schemes in Queensland and Victoria.

According to the Fairfax report, tens of millions of dollars have been invested in the schemes in Victoria already, with investors encouraged to be involved in the schemes through seminars featuring celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Branson.

Fairfax claims Schwarzenegger and Branson were paid appearance fees of $40,000.

According to ASIC there are currently 100 investors who have committed to the schemes, and the watchdog is seeking orders to appoint a provisional liquidator or receiver and manager to each of the five schemes.

The developers of the scheme are also alleged to be associated with McIntyre and the 21st Century Group, with ASIC looking to appoint liquidators to oversee them as well.

ASIC is also using the proceedings to seek orders that each of the defendants, including Jamie McIntyre, be restrained from promoting or operating any of the schemes and from operating a financial services business.

Land-banking is a real estate investment scheme involving the acquisition of large blocks of land by a promoter or developer of the scheme, often in undeveloped rural areas, who then offer portions of the land to investors.

Land banking companies typically promote the investment with representations of high potential returns if the land is redeveloped, or if plans for rezoning and development are finalised.

Investors either purchase a lot in the land, or acquire an option to purchase a lot of land in an unregistered plan of subdivision.  The option agreement is triggered at a time that the necessary development is approved by the local council.