The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has taken civil action against a property investment company and its director that promoted the use of SMSFs for investments, saying they were neither licensed nor registered to provide investment services.
ASIC took the action in the Federal Court against The A Team Property Group (TATPG) and its director, Sasha Hopkins, alleging Hopkins engaged in unlicensed conduct and his company operated a number of unregistered managed investment schemes.
“ASIC alleges that Hopkins and TATPG marketed its business online and on social media, offering clients property investment opportunities either personally or through their SMSF into a ‘joint venture’ development program for the purchase and development of real estate,” the corporate regulator stated.
“At no time did Hopkins or TATPG hold an Australian financial services licence (AFSL) that permitted them to engage in this conduct.”
As part of its investigation, ASIC found Hopkins and TATPG had promoted at least 25 property development joint ventures, raising over $32 million from clients, and the regulator applied to the Federal Court for an order to appoint a liquidator and wind up TATPG.
The regulator also sought orders to appoint liquidators and wind up five special purpose investment vehicles and schemes that were still active, along with associated companies and trusts used by Hopkins.
Additionally, it sought civil penalty orders against Hopkins for allegedly conducting a financial services business without an AFSL and operating unregistered managed investment schemes in breach of the law, as well as orders disqualifying him from managing corporations and restraining him from carrying out a financial services business.
The court action follows the imposition of freezing orders on the assets of Hopkins, TATPG and another related company, Sash Investment Holdings, in June 2022, after ASIC first become concerned about the actions of Hopkins and the two companies, which told investors to expect guaranteed returns from the joint venture property developments of more than 25 per cent.