A lawyer has avoided court action after undertaking to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars to out-of-pocket investors.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) accepted an enforceable undertaking (EU) last week (11 March), filed by Graham Keith Werry, a solicitor and property developer from Watsons Bay in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
Werry lodged the EU after the regulator became concerned that his companies were operating an unregistered managed investment scheme in breach of the Corporations Act.
In March 2010 ASIC commenced investigations into Werry's companies DTC No 1 and Weriton Finance Pty Ltd. These companies acted as trustees for the Australian Residential Finance Trust which ASIC calculated had raised more than $25 million from around 50 investors since 2003. ASIC alleges that more than $17 million is still owed to investors, the majority of whom are retirees.
ASIC also had concerns that these companies were operating as financial businesses without holding an Australian financial services licence, and issuing financial products to retail clients without providing product disclosure statements.
Under the conditions of the EU, Werry must pay investors the principal and interest on their promissory notes by 31 March. This payment must include a minimum sum of $210,000.
Despite acknowledging ASIC's concerns, the EU filed by Werry states that he acted in good faith, takes a "different view" to ASIC on various requirements of the Corporations Act and that he and his companies "disagree" with ASIC's analysis.
ASIC has accepted the EU as an alternative to commencing court proceedings.
Werry was unavailable for comment when contacted by Lawyers Weekly prior to publication.