A ban imposed by the corporate watchdog on high-profile Sydney lawyer Dominique Grubisa last year has been set aside by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) despite the tribunal arguing there are ‘serious adverse findings’ against her.
Grubisa, the founder of DG Institute, was banned for four years by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) from engaging in credit activities and financial services.
The ban stemmed from the activities of DG Institute, through which Grubisa provided training courses and services covering asset protection and wealth management via live seminars and online broadcasts.
ASIC issued the banning order after finding that Grubisa claimed to hold an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) and an Australian Credit Licence (ACL) when she did not, and that she was not a fit and proper person to engage in financial services or credit activities.
Grubisa, who has described herself as a lawyer, author, property educator and asset protection specialist, has been successful in setting aside the ban after taking the matter to the AAT.
In lifting the banning orders, the tribunal’s deputy resident Bernard McCabe said he was satisfied that grounds existed to make the banning orders but he was not satisfied the discretion should be exercised.
“Dominique Grubisa has earned a rare if dubious distinction: she has been the subject of banning orders that prevent her from providing financial services or engaging in credit activities despite the fact she was not (and does not plan to be) in the business of doing either of those things,” McCabe said in his decision.
“Ms Grubisa actually leads a business that provides seminars to members of the public through the DG Institute. The seminars purport to educate paying subscribers about wealth creation.”
McCabe said that while ASIC acknowledged Grubisa was not involved in the provision of financial services and didn’t engage in credit activities, he said ASIC found that she had effectively claimed she held an AFSL and an ACL in contravention of the National Consumer Protection Act.
McCabe conceded that while he had made ‘serious adverse findings’ against Grubisa, he lifted the ban imposed by ASIC.
“In reaching that conclusion, I do not mean to excuse the applicant’s problematic behaviour that has been uncovered through ASIC’s diligent investigations,” he said.
“But the issues she presents are issues for a different decision-maker.
“There may yet be consequences for her under other legislation administered by other regulators. But I do not step into the shoes of those other bodies. I only wear ASIC’s shoes.
“ASIC’s actions are informed by the objectives of the legislative regimes it administers, and by the objects of the ASIC Act itself. I am informed by the same matters. I do not see how a banning order made pursuant to the Corporations Act or the NCCP Act will further a legitimate regulatory interest.”
ASIC is ‘carefully reviewing’ the AAT’s decision.
Get our daily business news
Sign up to our free email news updates.