ASIC launches legal action against land-banking schemes

by Julia Corderoy12 Aug 2015
ASIC has launched serious legal action against companies behind the marketing and sale of a number of land-banking schemes to investors.

The regulator has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against companies associated with Jamie McIntyre and his group of companies, in relation to their promotion and sale of interests to investors in five land banking schemes.

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 promises of high returns if the land is redeveloped, or if plans for rezoning and development are finalised.

While ASIC does not regulate direct property investment, the regulator believes that land banking schemes may be a managed investment scheme or financial product. As such, the promoters of these schemes should hold an AFS licence and register these schemes with the regulator.   

In the case of Jamie McIntyre, ASIC alleges that the schemes are unregistered managed investment schemes and that the real estate group and McIntyre have been unlawfully carrying on an unlicensed financial services business.

According to ASIC, there are over 100 investors in the schemes, which have been promoted to investors through seminars by entities associated with McIntyre's real estate group. 

ASIC is now seeking orders to appoint a provisional liquidator or receiver and manager to each of the five schemes and the development companies, in order to take control of any assets and protect the interests of investors.

The regulator is also seeking orders that each of the defendants, including McIntyre, be restrained from promoting or operating any of the schemes and from operating a financial services business.

The matter is set down for a first hearing on Friday 14 August 2015.