THE Federal Court has fined conman Peter Foster $660,000 and permanently banned him from being a company director or having any business in the health industry.
Justice David Yates fined his weightloss scam business SensaSlim, which is now in liquidation, a total of $3.55 million for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct and making false representations.
An investigation by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission found that SensaSlim's oral spray, which claimed to cause weight loss, suggested it was the subject of 'a large worldwide clinical trial'.
The SensaSlim solution was distributed through franchisees to be on-sold to consumers through retail outlets. Around 110 areas were sold to franchisees for the cost of $59,950 each.
SensaSlim earned approximately $6.4 million from the sale of these franchises.
"Mr Foster went to great lengths to hide his involvement in SensaSlim from franchisees and others - his conduct was unacceptable and extremely deceitful, and the Court imposed penalties reflect this," ACCC deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper says.
"People who decide to buy into a franchise business typically put much of their own savings on the line. They must be able to make informed business decisions on the basis of full and accurate disclosure by the franchisor."
In handing down the penalty Yates says that Foster "preys on the right-mindedness of others to cheat and deceive."
He says in the present case, he lurked behind SensaSlim precisely for that purpose and is beyond redemption.
The Court also found that SensaSlim made false representations about the role of SensaSlim's officers, Michael Boyle and Peter O'Brien, that there was a 'worldwide clinical trial' of the SensaSlim Solution and the earning potential of SensaSlim franchises.
Foster, Boyle and O'Brien were found to be knowingly concerned in, or party to, some of SensaSlim's contraventions.
The Federal Court made Boyle pay a penalty of $75,000 and be disqualified from managing a corporation for 3 years and O'Brien was ordered to pay a penalty of $55,000 and be disqualified from managing a corporation for 10 years.
The ACCC initially instituted proceedings against SensaSlim and its staff in July 2011.
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