There have been more regulatory hurdles for a business connected with self-declared debt expert Dominique Grubisa and her husband, Kevin.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that on 11 April, a delegate refused the application of Capital Mortgage Group to vary its credit licence to enable it to provide debt management services.
Capital Mortgage Group is the finance business formerly known as DGI Finance. The sole director of the company is Kevin Grubisa.
Since July 2021, companies providing certain debt management services have been required to hold a credit licence, the terms of which authorise the provision of such services. Under transitional arrangements, companies that applied for a licence or a variation to an existing licence (seeking “debt management services” authorisation) and which were members of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) by 30 June 2021 were entitled to provide debt management services until ASIC dealt with the application.
Capital Mortgage Group was one such company. However, the company seems to have hit a snag — ASIC has refused its application. Of the companies that consented to ASIC publishing details of their application, Capital Mortgage Group is the only one so far to suffer that fate. The company’s response has been to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of that decision.
Dominique Grubisa had been providing debt management services through her company, DGI Debt Management Pty Ltd, until it went into liquidation on 26 August last year.
In May 2021, A Current Affair reported that DGI Debt Management had made up fake loans and put fake documents to AFCA and banks without the knowledge or consent of clients.
Representing Capital Mortgage Group in the AAT is Assure Lawyers. The sole director of Assure Lawyers is James Lyons, who is also the principal of Murphy Lyons Lawyers. Lyons owns 50 per cent of the shares in Assure Lawyers. The other 50 per cent is owned by DGI Holdings Pty Ltd, the director of which is Kevin Grubisa.
There have been a number of departures from Assure Lawyers in recent months. First, Zeeshaan Nordien was replaced as director and shareholder by Lyons on 1 March this year. A search of the NSW Law Society website suggests three other lawyers have since departed — Jonathan D’Arcy, Jo Pajaczkowska-Russell and Charmaine Ho. Lyons seems to be the last lawyer remaining.
Lyons must have his hands full servicing the clients of Assure Lawyers, the clients of his other practice, Murphy Lyons, and representing Dominique and Kevin Grubisa and their companies. Apart from AAT matters, Lyons is also representing Dominique Grubisa and her company, Master Wealth Control, in the Federal Court in proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The ACCC alleges that Grubisa and her company made false or misleading representations to thousands of people. The matter is back before the court for a case management hearing on 14 August.
Lyons will no doubt be looking forward to a rest on his birthday. We just aren’t sure what date we should be wishing him a happy birthday and to where we should send the card. ASIC records have us confused. We may have already missed his birthday, but suspect not.
According to Dominique Grubisa, Lyons birthday is in late July. When she incorporated RER Lawyers Pty Ltd in 2013, Grubisa claimed Lyons' birthday to be in July. She also claimed he resided at a house owned by her and Kevin in North Turramurra. A house in which they reside but have recently sold.
ASIC records for five other companies of which Lyons was director show his birthday in August. Not surprisingly, they don’t show Lyons living in Grubisa’s house.
When asked about RER Lawyers, Lyons told the Financial Review he knew nothing about it.
Now if you were genuinely a director of a law firm you would expect to be able to recall such a thing. Particularly if you were the only director of the company who was a practising lawyer. You think you would also recall where you lived and your date of birth.
You would expect you would also know about the company when your name was the only name on the letterhead.
Dominique Grubisa resigned as a director of RER Lawyers on 21 August 2013 and was replaced as a director by her husband, Kevin. On 5 September 2019, Kevin filed a notice with ASIC of Lyons having resigned as a director on 21 August 2019.
You would also expect that if you were a director of a law firm, you would know who was employed in the practice. For example, you might expect to know who Chris Jackson was, given he was named as the contact at RER Lawyers on a contract. Chris Jackson is, of course, Christopher Ronald Fitzsimons, Dominique Grubisa’s father. Jackson is the false name Fitzsimons used.
Lyons knows very well who Chris Fitzsimons is because he represented him in proceedings in NCAT in September 2012 which led to Fitzsimons being struck off the roll of solicitors.
Such was the admiration for Lyons by Chris Fitzsimons and his wife Maria (also struck off as a lawyer in 2013) that they took to using an email account, firstname.lastname@example.org, to give legal advice, despite being struck off. Lyons & Lyons was the former name of Lyons’ practice Murphy Lyons.
Dominique Grubisa seems to have a very different recollection of events to Lyons.
In April, the AAT heard an application for a review of the banning order made against Dominique Grubisa.
Grubisa’s counsel asked her about media reports about Lyon’s supposed directorship of RER Lawyers.
Her counsel asked:
“Is it correct that... is the statement that Mr Lyons did not consent to being a director of RER Lawyers Proprietary Limited true or false?”
Grubisa told the tribunal:
“...that he [Lyons] didn’t consent to being a director was false.”
Grubisa’s sworn evidence is at complete odds with what Lyons told the Financial Review last year. Lyons claimed to know nothing of the company.
If he was a director, why did he tell the Financial Review he knew nothing about the company? Why was his former client, Chris Fitzsimons, using a fake name? Why was a fake date of birth and address used for Lyons for this company? If Lyons was knowingly a director of RER Lawyers, then why was Christopher Fitzsimons (using the fake name Chris Jackson) involved in the practice, having been struck off?
As the only (supposed) director of the company who was a practising lawyer when Fitzsimons’/Jackson’s name appeared on the contract, why wasn’t Lyons across who was working for the firm?
Why was Maria Fitzsimons sending emails using the former name of Lyons’ former law firm from a Bigpond account that was not the email address of Lyons’ law firm?
Why did Lyons say in 2020 that he knew Chris Fitzsimons was giving legal advice pretending to be his (Lyons') firm and then do nothing about it?
In the AAT proceedings in April, Grubisa’s counsel also took her to a passage from her Real Estate Rescue manual and asked her to recite it to the tribunal.
Grubisa’s counsel asked her:
“Do you see the words that are highlighted there on the screen?”
Grubisa responded, “Yes”.
Grubisa’s counsel asked, “Can you just read those for me?”
Grubisa read the words:
“Nothing I ever suggest or teach in any way should be construed or used for illegal or unethical practices. Do it the right way and you’ll build a great reputation and make some great friends along the way.”
From where did Grubisa find this inspiration? From the book of Chip Cummings Grubisa plagiarised to create her manual. Those words came from page 11 of Cummings’ book. In fact, over 100 pages of her manual were lifted from Cummings’ book.
Nothing speaks more clearly to ethical practices than blatant plagiarism.
What led to ASIC’s banning order? Apparently, Ms Grubisa's habit of not telling the truth.
Who was in the tribunal as the solicitor instructing Ms Grubisa’s counsel? None other than James Lyons.
When will it end?
In stuff you simply cannot make up, a lawyer whose business has been involved in the creation of false documents, in having her father use a fake name to deceive her clients and others, her mother pretending to be another law firm, doubles down with utter nonsense. Because if you just believe daddy is Chris Jackson and not Fitzsimons, if you just believe Maria Fitzsimons is Lyons and Lyons lawyers and you just believe debts exist when they don’t, you can achieve the impossible.
- Dominique Grubisa: Still making fools of her followers
- Dominique Grubisa faces Federal Court in ACCC case
- Dominique Grubisa 'assured' by her lawyers, but what about their clients?
- 'Robin Hood' Grubisa rolls on with rotten real estate advice
- Dominique Grubisa stashing money as regulators close in
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