​Industry bodies’ hands tied over ‘thorn in the side of broker channel’

by 30 Jan 2014
The industry bodies have put the onus back on brokers to perform due diligence before entering any agreement after a banned trail book buyer Mark Whittingham was linked to the latest scam attempting to dupe brokers.
 
MFAA CEO Phil Naylor told Australian Broker  the organisation has received “a couple of calls” about Whittingham’s latest activities “but fortunately members see them for what they are”.

“He has been a thorn in the side for the broker channel for many years.  We, along with many of the aggregators, have produced many warnings to members about his activities as well as reporting him to ASIC. While he has been the subject of a ban, it seems other scams are continuing to appear.”

While a number of Australian Broker readers have called on the industry bodies to take action against Whittingham, FBAA president Peter White says the organisations’ hands are tied.
 
“No association is a court of law, nor is any association above the law or replaces the law or the regulators of an industry .... inclusive of ours,” says White.

“Our members have been communicated to on this, the media has published this, the courts have ruled, and any further offences by the person must be legally and appropriately dealt with.”

White also stressed that the association will not make statements against a person or business without solid evidence and/or a conviction against that person or business.

“I have seen associations make 'kangaroo court' decisions which are proven to be wrong but in the meantime they have potentially damaged a persons’ business and reputation and good character - and what's worse never publicly apologised for their error,” said White.

“The FBAA will never act as a kangaroo court, it's not our mandate as we are here to support our members who are practising brokers and the industry at large.”

Both industry body presidents warned brokers to be cautious, and ensure they practice due diligence.

“The best way to stop these activities is to not deal with the proponent,” said Naylor.

“Clearly [Consumer Affairs Victoria] seems to be prepared to take some action as opposed to other regulators so there is a remedy there, but to some extent this is shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.”

Consumer Affairs Victoria director Claire Noone said the regulator could not comment on any matter that may currently be subject to an ongoing investigation.

“Brokers are warned to be wary when receiving unsolicited emails regarding the sale of loan trail books,” said Noone.

“Any brokers and members of the public who believe they have been contacted or done business recently with Mr Whittingham or any business operated by Mr Whittingham are urged to report the matter to Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81.”

An ASIC spokesperson said the regulator does not comment on operational matters, including "whether we have received complaints - or not - about a particular person or entity".

ASIC encourages those who have a complaint to register it through their website. ASIC's INFO Sheet 151 outlines how these complaints are handled and assessed.

COMMENTS

  • by Country Broker 30/01/2014 9:03:46 AM

    So its OK for ASIC to ban brokers ( rightly so) and the MFAA and FBAA to expel members , BUT when it comes to protecting brokers fro fraudsters , its sorry our hands are tied !!

  • by Concerned member 30/01/2014 9:15:26 AM

    Very typical of The MFAA&FBAA, practically declaring to Whittingham that he is "untouchable ".. What an absolute disgrace. Someone needs to do something, take a class action action against this fraud, he is a "thorn" in our industry and we need to get him behind bars because that is the only place he belongs!

  • by Tony 30/01/2014 9:31:21 AM

    So what is it that an association is meant to do? I would have a guess and say that this scumbag is not a member of any association. From memory he has been through the court sytem in Victoria. I believe he has been banned from being a director, or am I wrong there. He works on the sidelines of the industry. Both Associations put out warning regarding him. So again, what is it you want them to do. Go to his house, find him and lynch him. The main thing is in any dealings is to do your own due diligenge. If after this you make a mistake and get ripped off, you only have two people to blame. The person ripping you off, and yourself for allowing it. No association can protect you from this sort of thing.