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Regulator takes investment firms to court

— 1 minute read

The corporate watchdog has launched proceedings in the Federal Court against two companies in an investment group, alleging their advertisements are misleading or deceptive.

ASIC has taken the action against Mayfair 101 companies Mayfair Wealth Partners, trading as Mayfair Platinum and Online Investments, trading as Mayfair 101 over the promotion of two debenture products to wholesale investors. 

The products were M+ Fixed Income Notes, which are unsecured promissory notes issued by M101 Holdings and M Core Fixed Income Notes, which are secured promissory notes issued by M101 Nominees.

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Mayfair Platinum and Mayfair 101 were reported to use sponsored link internet advertising, through Google AdWords and Bing Ads, so the websites for the Mayfair debenture products appear as sponsored links when consumers search for “bank term deposit” or “term deposit” online.

The regulator commented Mayfair’s promotional material had also used words such as “term deposit alternative”, “term investment” and “fixed term”; “certainty” and confidence” and “capital growth”. 

ASIC has claimed Mayfair Platinum and Mayfair 101 have made false, misleading or deceptive statements by representing that: 

  • Mayfair debenture products are comparable to bank terms deposits, and have a similar risk profile to bank term deposits, when they are debentures with a significantly higher risk profile;
  • the principal investment will be repaid in full on maturity, when investors may not receive capital repayments on maturity or at all, and because Mayfair could elect to extend the time for repayment for an indefinite period;
  • Mayfair debenture products were specifically designed for people seeking “certainty and confidence in their investments”, when investors may not receive interest and/or capital repayments, and could lose some, or all, of their investment; and
  • Mayfair debenture products provide capital growth opportunities, when they do not.

The regulator has sought injunctions to restrain such statements from being published and penalties in relation to the alleged false or misleading representations.

The proceedings have come after Mayfair Platinum suspended payment of capital redemptions to investors in the debenture products due to liquidity issues on 11 March. 

In light of this, ASIC is seeking an interim injunction to restrain the defendants from promoting and issuing the products while redemptions to existing investors remain suspended. 

ASIC’s application for an injunction will be heard by the Federal Court on 14 April. 

The regulator has called for consumers with concerns about their dealings with the group to lodge a report of misconduct. 

 

Regulator takes investment firms to court
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Sarah Simpkins

Sarah Simpkins

Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth. 

Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio. 

You can contact her on [email protected].

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