ASIC has reached an agreement to settle its actions against Barzen Pty Ltd (formerly Dukes Financial Services Pty Ltd) and Mr Joseph Dukes (collectively ‘Dukes’), for $1 million.
This settlement is subject to the approval of the Federal Court.
If approved by the court, the Dukes’ settlement should result in compensation being paid by Dukes to eligible investors (Group Members).
In April 2008, ASIC initiated class actions against Dukes to seek compensation for clients who invested in certain financial products issued by various companies within the failed Westpoint Group on the advice of Dukes (or its representatives). The claim alleges that Dukes negligently advised Group Members to invest in certain Westpoint products and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.
This settlement is the sixth reached by ASIC as part of its compensation proceedings commenced on behalf of Westpoint investors and reflects the Commission’s priority to assist and protect retail investors. The settlement was reached without any admission of liability by Dukes.
The process for approval of the settlement will include:
ASIC writing to Group Members to provide details of the compensation they may receive and to advise them of their right to lodge any objection to the settlement with the Court;
ASIC placing an advertisement in a national newspaper advising that a settlement of the proceedings will shortly be considered by the Court;
the parties and the Court obtaining a final determination as to who will receive compensation under the settlement; and
the Court considering submissions from ASIC, Dukes and any Group Member as to why the settlement should or should not be approved.
Following ASIC’s application to seek approval of the settlement, the Court made orders on 10 September 2010. ASIC will now contact Group Members, provide details of the compensation they will likely receive, and advise them of their right to object to the settlement. The Court will hear submissions for and against the approval of the settlement at 9.30am on 3 November 2010.
In the event the settlement is approved, ASIC anticipates that 70 per cent of the settlement sum will be distributed in January 2011 with the balance distributed in November 2011.
Investors (Group members) in ASIC’s class action against Glenhurst Corporation Pty Ltd (in liquidation) are expected to receive compensation by Friday 17 September 2010. ASIC anticipates approximately 90 investors will receive their share of approximately $2.48 million. Late last month, approximately 525 investors in ASIC's class action against Melbourne-based, State Trustees Ltd, also received compensation payments totalling $13.5 million.
Further information regarding ASIC’s compensation proceedings and settlements can be found in the following ASIC advisories: