ASIC has moved to shut down an unlicensed mortgage lender that appears to have been engaging with customers primarily from the Pacific Islander community in Australia and New Zealand.
ASIC successfully obtained interim orders and injunctions from the Federal Court against Mr Brent Lindsay Smith, Mr Mahmoud Khodr and Mr Trevor Leota and Remedy Housing.
Remedy Housing is operated by Mr Smith and Mr Khodr as director and secretary respectively, with Mr Leota also involved in the business. ASIC has alleged that the Defendants and Remedy Housing are:
carrying on a financial services business and engaging in credit activities without holding an Australian financial services licence or an Australian credit licence;
engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct while carrying on a financial services business;
making false or misleading representations regarding financial services and financial products that involve interest in land;
giving false or materially misleading information when engaging in a credit activity; and
obtaining property and financial advantage by deception.
Remedy Housing advertises on its website and social media platforms that it can provide customers with ‘interest free mortgages’ upon receipt of a $10,000 deposit.
Between 7 November 2019 to 10 March 2021, approximately 123 potential customers deposited a total of $1,484,250 into a bank account in Remedy Housing’s name.
On 17 June 2021, the Court found there was a need to protect people and made the following orders on an ex parte basis:
asset preservation orders against the Defendants, their wives and Remedy Housing;
orders requiring the disclosure of information to ASIC against each of the Defendants, their wives and Remedy Housing; and
travel restraint orders for the Defendants.
The Court also made further orders restraining the Defendants and Remedy Housing from carrying on or promoting the Remedy Housing business. The Defendants and Remedy Housing were ordered to take down the website remedyhousingaustralia.com.au and associated social media promotions.
These orders were made pending a final hearing into the conduct of the Defendants and Remedy Housing in which ASIC is seeking a permanent injunction preventing the Remedy Housing business from operating.
ASIC’s investigation into the Defendants and Remedy Housing remains ongoing.