Business Analysis

Hopeless regulators allowing deception to continue

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What about the members of the Law Society giving the wrong advice? (Background image via Law Society of NSW, Grubisa screenshot via YouTube)

Despite a Federal Court judge eviscerating claims by Dominique Grubisa, a law firm half-owned by a company controlled by her husband seems still to be flogging the nonsense, as IA reports.

IT WAS ON 12 April 2019 that the Law Society of New South Wales (Society) was made aware of false claims made by Dominique Grubisa regarding her asset protection product. Not only was it alerted to her false claims but also that it was sold through a company that was not a law firm.

In early 2020, the Society decided to close its investigation into unqualified practice by Grubisa’s Master Wealth Control Pty Ltd (MWC), despite having been presented with invoices, the documents comprising the product and videos of her presentations.

Yet now in 2024, as part of two cases brought by the Council of the Law Society, the Society says that Grubisa ‘represented that MWC was entitled to engage in legal practice when it was [not entitled to do so because it was] an unqualified entity’.

How did they get it wrong in 2020? Why did they not act promptly in 2019 when the scale and nature of the issues should have been apparent to them? Why, in the past five years have thousands of people been sold the asset protection product that has been so utterly discredited in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) case?

In December 2022, in a media statement by the ACCC, then Deputy Chair of the ACCC Delia Rickard referred to potential significant financial harm in relying on the advice of and using the materials provided by MWC and Grubisa. The Society was alerted to these issues in April 2019 and the ACCC in May 2019.

As we reported in November 2022, doctoring of documents by Grubisa’s business (reported by A Current Affair in 2021) to create the appearance of loans that did not exist occurred some 18 months after the Society was alerted to serious concerns about Grubisa’s asset protection claims.

Figures for non-existent debts that seem to have been plucked out of the air were added to documents. Documents altered without the knowledge of the client. 

In the A Current Affair segment, Barry a former client of Grubisa’s business said (whilst holding up two documents):

“They’re the two bits of evidence that will put a stake through her heart professionally.”

Barry went on to say:

“They were putting fake amounts of money on loans that didn’t exist.”

IA can reveal that Grubisa’s falsification of debts relating to her asset protection product goes back to 2009. Grubisa told staff of MWC that following her appearance on A Current Affair in 2009, she told the solicitor representing the person who appeared on that segment, in connection with the sale of the property that there was a debt of “$100,000 or $120,000 or whatever so there was no change [IA Emphasis]. 

Yes, “or whatever”. Making up figures for non-existent debts. More commonly known as “fraud”.

In his decision in the ACCC case, Justice Jackman said:

“That structure has an obvious flaw as a structure designed to protect the client’s property from creditors, in that it will only afford protection to the extent of the amount of the secured loan by the trustee to the client.”

In what can only be described as an utter farce, Assure Lawyers seems to still be flogging the asset protection product. Assure Lawyers is half owned by James Lyons and the other half by DGI Holdings Pty Ltd, a company controlled by Dominique Grubisa’s husband, Kevin. Lyons is the sole director.

On the Assure Lawyers website is a link for a consultation with asset protection consultants. The consultants named are Greg Klopper and Alistair Manual [sic]. His name is actually Alistair Manuel. Neither are lawyers.

Klopper is more well known for his involvement with notorious spruiker Henry Kaye whose discredited land banking schemes led to a Senate Inquiry. Klopper’s business, Global 1 Training, ran investment seminars used to spruik the schemes.

Klopper’s spouse/partner, Janine Accurso, works as a paralegal at Assure Lawyers. If you ring the firm and press 2 (the asset protection option) Janine answers, “Wealth Guard”.

The Assure Lawyers website contains a sales pitch video, the slides in which have been taken from past presentations by Grubisa. The embedded video is from the Property Lovers Vimeo account, so one would assume is the work of Grubisa rather than James Lyons.

Metadata shows the video was uploaded to Vimeo on 7 February this year:

‘uploadDate":"2024-02-07T19:08:28-05:00’

Other pages on the site related to the “Wealth Guard” service date back to October last year.

(Screenshot via Assure Lawyers website)

As we reported in July 2022, Grubisa was still spruiking the asset protection product after she ceased to be entitled to practice law. In September last year, we reported she was flogging it purportedly on behalf of Assure Lawyers.

Grubisa started flogging her products through Property Lovers around the time that the ACCC commenced proceedings against her and MWC. The sole director of Property Lovers is Kevin Grubisa. Kevin is not a lawyer. Property Lovers is not a law firm.

This makes you wonder why the terms and conditions on the Property Lovers website dated 30 December 2022 (15 days after the ACCC commenced proceedings against MWC and Grubisa) referred to the company selling the asset protection product. Perhaps, as Max Mason of the Financial Review opined, ‘Grubisa won't stop until somebody makes her’.

Or, as we said in January 2023, because she thinks she is unstoppable

There was still reference to the asset protection product in terms of purchase (according to the URL) dated 19 June 2023, but in the terms themselves dated 21 February 2023. Grubisa was therefore flogging her snake oil through MWC (not a law firm) then through Property Lovers (not a law firm) and then through Assure Lawyers.

In the video on the Assure Lawyers website, the same nonsense claims made by Grubisa are made. Questions such as “Would it be worth $33k to become financially secure forever?”

In the FAQs section of the video, the same nonsense claims Grubisa would make about the skills of other lawyers are trotted out:

‘Your current lawyer or accountant may not be an asset protection specialist with a focus on estate planning like the team at Assure Lawyers, so may not give you the right advice or setup for your situation. At Assure Lawyers, that is all that we do and we’ve become very good at it.’

Who is it at Assure Lawyers, who are the supposed asset protection specialists? Nothing in the bio of James Lyons on his Murphy Lyons website suggests it is him given that it refers to experience in ‘criminal law, corporate law, family law and traffic law’. What does Janine Accurso know about asset protection?

Speaking of traffic, who is actually directing the traffic at Assure Lawyers? It is Lyons or is it Grubisa? Grubisa is no longer entitled to practice law. Lyons was, of course, supposedly a director of an RER Lawyers Pty Ltd that Grubisa incorporated in 2013, although Lyons told the Financial Review he knew nothing of the company. 

Lyons' name appeared on the letterhead — his was the only name. Chris Jackson (real name Christopher Fitzsimons), Grubisa's father’s name, appeared on a contract as the solicitor at RER Lawyers when he had been struck from the roll. Assure Lawyers operates out of the same premises of businesses operated by Grubisa and her husband while Lyons’ practice, Murphy Lyons, operates from premises in Bondi Junction.

In another video on the Assure Lawyers website, the following statement is made:

“At Assure Lawyers we believe our asset protection and estate planning offering is one of the most effective ways of protecting what you have built... In fact, for the last 13 years, we have helped thousands of clients to put this in place. It is our niche area and as a law firm, our work is protected by professional indemnity insurance, so you are in safe hands.”

We suspect that Lawcover, the legal professional indemnity insurers in NSW, will be having kittens given Justice Jackman’s decision.

How many more people will be ripped off before the Society runs this circus out of town? When will they be accountable for the harm caused in the over five years they have knowingly allowed this to go on?

MWC is also the subject of numerous other court cases at the moment. On 26 April, there is directions hearing in the NSW District Court case brought by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd and on the same day, there is a hearing of a matter in the Corporations List in the NSW Supreme Court. 

Seeming to want to outdo her mentor Donald Trump, another company associated with Grubisa has a hearing in the Local Court on the same day.

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