Tuesday 19 December 2006 LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs – Mr Jeffrey Lucy, Chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) today announced the first criminal charges to be brought as part of ASIC’s continuing investigation into the collapse of Westpoint Corporation Pty Ltd and related entities (Westpoint). Mr Neil Austin Burnard today appeared in the Downing Centre Local Court charged with 18 criminal offences relating to the raising of investor funds on behalf of Westpoint by his company Palentia Pty Ltd, formerly known as Kebbel (NSW) Pty Ltd. Mr Burnard has been charged with four counts of engaging in dishonest conduct in relation to a financial product in the course of carrying on a financial services business under the Corporations Act and 14 counts of obtaining money by false or misleading statements under the Crimes Act of NSW.
ASIC alleges that Mr Burnard engaged in dishonest conduct in the course of carrying on a financial services business, namely providing financial product advice, by representing to investors that ‘Kebbel Investment Bank’ existed when in fact no such entity existed. These charges were brought under the Corporations Act. ASIC also alleges that Mr Burnard, with intent to obtain a financial advantage for various Westpoint ‘mezzanine’ companies, made or published a statement which he knew to be false or misleading in a material particular, in that it purported that an entity ‘Kebbel Investment Bank’ existed when in fact no such entity existed.
In addition, ASIC alleges Mr Burnard described himself as a director of ‘Kebbel Investment Bank’ and made or published statements referring to ‘Kebbel Investment Bank’, which he knew to be false or misleading. These charges were brought under the Crimes Act. ASIC has previously obtained orders in the Supreme Court of New South Wales restraining Mr Burnard from leaving Australia and requiring him to deliver up all passports, as well as orders preventing him from disposing of his assets. These orders were initially made on 2 June 2006 after ASIC learned that Mr Burnard had boarded a plane for the United States, despite telling investigators that he would be available to speak to them. Mr Burnard later returned to Australia having been refused entry into the United States. These orders are continued until 29 January 2007.
The charges against Mr Burnard have been adjourned to the Downing Centre Local Court on 20 February 2007 for mention. The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting the matter. For further information contact: Allen Turton Deputy Executive Director Enforcement Telephone: 02 9911 2338 Mobile: 0411 549 236 Angela Friend ASIC Media Unit Telephone: 03 9280 3338 Mobile: 0412 058 800