Bagshot and Truganina landbanking schemes in ASIC April court hearing

Bagshot and Truganina landbanking schemes in ASIC April court hearing
Bagshot and Truganina landbanking schemes in ASIC April court hearing

ASIC has proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia (Victoria) next month to freeze assets and wind up companies associated with two land banking schemes operated in Victoria.

The two land banking schemes are known as

  • Hermitage Bendigo (formerly Acacia Banks) located at Midland Highway, Bagshot, Victoria 3551 (Hermitage); and
  • Foscari, located at 99 Palmers Road, Truganina, Victoria 3029 (Foscari).

The Court has set the matter down for trial on 13 and 14 April 2016.  

The freezing and restraining orders made by the Honourable Mr Justice Beach on 21 December 2015 remain in place.

ASIC told the court it was concerned that the development companies are insolvent and that it is also just and equitable that the companies are wound up.

ASIC's investigations suggest that investors may have invested in the land banking schemes on the basis of misleading representations and that option agreements entered into by investors in Hermitage and Foscari purportedly allow for monies invested in the schemes to be used for any purpose whatsoever, and need not be used to progress the two land banking schemes.

ASIC is also concerned that Hermitage and Foscari are not close to completion and appear to be incapable of completion due to the financial position of the development companies.

ASIC has taken this action to protect the interests of investors.

In addition, ASIC is taking action against Project Management (Aust) Pty Ltd (ACN 151 902 126) (PMA) and Michael Grochowski. ASIC alleges that PMA and Mr Grochowski were involved in the operation of the land banking schemes and that bank accounts relating to the development companies were operated by PMA.

The proceedings are part of ASIC's wider and ongoing investigation into land banking.

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

Investors either purchase a lot in the land, or acquire an option to purchase a lot of land in an unregistered plan of subdivision.  The option agreement is triggered at a time that the necessary development is approved by the local council.

A number of land banking schemes around the world have collapsed without the promoted redevelopment ever proceeding.  Criminal prosecutions have also occurred in circumstances were investors have been misled as to the prospects of rezoning and planning approval being obtained for the land, or in instances where the land was not held.

In August 2015, following an investigation, ASIC also commenced proceedings against companies associated with Jamie McIntyre and the 21st Century Group in relation their promotion and sale of interests to investors in five land banking schemes. On 7 October 2015 the Federal Court made orders appointing provisional liquidators to the companies which operated the schemes. 

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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Asic Landbanking

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