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.