Law Analysis

Something is rotten in the state of NSW — Grubisa be thy name

By | | comments |
Dominique Grubisa has become notorious for preying on the less fortunate, her list of victims ever-growing (Image by Dan Jensen)

While self-proclaimed debt expert Dominique Grubisa tells people she can instantly quarantine their assets, the truth is that’s done via deception as David Donovan reports.

TO UNDERSTAND the sort of deception going on in Dominique Grubisa’s business you only need to look at the story of one of her victims. Barry, who featured in a segment on A Current Affair in May of last year.

Barry was one of Ms Grubisa’s clients. He signed up for a debt management program that was promoted by one of Grubisa’s businesses on Facebook. That company, DGI Debt Management Pty Ltd, promoted strategies to get creditors to accept cents in the dollar. Grubisa was the sole director of the company. It has recently gone into liquidation.

We expect the liquidator, Danny Vrkic of DV Recovery Management, might like to get his hands on the client files of the company if he hasn’t already given the stories exposed on A Current Affair.

Grubisa’s staff told Barry they would lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) on his behalf to negotiate with his bank, Westpac. As we reported in March, the position put to AFCA was plagiarised from a paper written by Griffith University academic, Dr Pelma Rajapaske.

In November 2019, Barry received an email from Lionel Coombs from DG Institute. Mr Coombs’s email sign-off described him as a ‘product specialist’. IA understands Mr Coombs was a former real estate agent.

The email said:

We need to have the structure and securities of Master Wealth Control [IA note: the asset protection product] in place before we poke a stick at Westpac.

 

I know this seems like I've just done a flip on the timing of the rollout, but following a really detailed discussion about the strategy for tackling your file, our debt team have advised that getting everything in place in full first will put them in a substantially stronger negotiation position, given the retained asset in the property.

Barry was put on to Mr Coombs’ colleague, Kayde Tremolada, who sent him a document that set out an overview of the supposed asset protection product to convince him to sign up.

The document Barry received from Tremolada referred to the product [IA emphasis]:

‘...involving you mortgaging your equity to a trust so that everything that you own is 100 per cent under finance. Because your equity in your assets is mortgaged, or subject to a charge in favour of a lender (being your trust), then creditors cannot seize your assets to satisfy their claims.’

The document went on to say that in relation to debts [IA emphasis]:

‘The order of priority would be that the bank is first mortgagee, the caveat is registered after it and should a creditor register a judgment it will rank in third place. If the assets are sold the first and second creditors are paid and because the equitable mortgage is elastic as to amount owed, the third and subsequent creditors receive nothing.’

Elastic indeed, as we will show.

The documents that Barry was asked to sign came with advice instructing him to print the documents, read the asset protection plan, check the details on the documents were correct, sign the documents, set up a bank account for the ‘friendly creditor’ trust, lodge caveats and securities on the personal property security register and file the documents away in a safe place.

Above Ms Grubisa’s signature on the documents was this remarkable claim:

‘You have invested your time and resources into safeguarding your future and your assets are now fully protected. You can now get on with living your life and building your wealth with the peace of mind that comes with being bulletproof.’

Grubisa was telling her potential clients that “no money needed to change hands” and that they would be ”financially invincible forever”.  These are statements made by Grubisa in a video she had on YouTube for years but removed in December 2020. She continued to make such claims in subsequent webinars. 

In a video still on Vimeo (uploaded five years ago), Grubisa says:

“Imagine where you are now was rock bottom. You can’t ever lose what you’ve got and the only way from here is exponential growth. And whatever you earn, you’ll never ever lose. You will be able to bite off more than you can chew and chew like crazy and grow your wealth in the times ahead.”

These are the claims Grubisa has made for years and as we reported in March, are believed by her clients.

As part of DGI Debt Management’s work to lodge a complaint with AFCA, Grubisa’s business provided Barry with an AFCA template statement of financial position to complete. He did so and sent it back. 

Months later, frustrated with the lack of response from Grubisa’s business, Barry contacted AFCA requesting documents that had been provided to AFCA by Grubisa’s staff.

The statement Barry received from AFCA was not what he had signed. It had been altered. Debts of $300,000 and $290,000 supposedly owing to Barry’s ‘friendly creditor’ trust had been added to the form. The page he had completed had been altered and substituted out and the altered document sent to AFCA without his knowledge.    

These figures were plucked out of the air as Barry did not owe the ‘friendly creditor’ trust anything.

Barry wrote to DGI seeking an explanation for this. From where had these amounts come?  

He wrote to Zeeshaan Nordien, then an employed solicitor at Grubisa’s law firm, DGI Lawyers Pty Ltd. Nordien is now the sole director and principal of Assure Lawyers, the rebranded name of DGI Lawyers. Grubisa is no longer entitled to practice law. Her family retains a 50 per cent shareholding in Assure Lawyers through a company, DGI Holdings Pty Ltd, which in turn is owned by RER Properties Pty Ltd, the shareholder and sole director of which is Grubisa’s husband, Kevin.

Barry did not receive a response from Nordien but did receive a response from Grubisa on 25 February last year. 

In part it read:

‘As you are aware, the debt management services have been provided by DGI Debt Management (DGIDM). I have discussed your matter with the DGIDM team who are content that the course of action taken was appropriate in your circumstances.’

According to Grubisa, altering a document filled out by her client and creating fictitious loan amounts was ‘appropriate’.

Barry went on to lodge a complaint with the Office of the NSW Legal Services Commissioner about the asset protection product and the doctoring of documents. The complaint was in turn delegated to the NSW Law Society. He is just one of many people who have lodged complaints with the NSW Legal Services Commission about Grubisa.

The doctoring of Barry’s documents occurred nearly 18 months after the NSW Law Society had received complaints about Grubisa’s claims regarding asset protection.

Barry continued to ask questions of Grubisa and Nordien about how the documents he signed came to be altered and demanded a refund of the money paid for the asset protection and debt management service. He received no response.

In February last year, we wrote about another client of Grubisa’s business who had been told no money needed to change hands to have their assets protected. 

In that person’s case, when a trustee in bankruptcy asked for evidence of a debt owed to the “Vestey Trust”, Grubisa’s business repudiated that advice, saying:

‘The trustee [in bankruptcy] can ask your [Vestey Trust] trustee to verify the equitable mortgage debt by producing the trust bank account statements. If there are records that’s easy, but if you haven’t kept any records, the trustee will disallow the debt as a claim.’

It is bad enough that Grubisa is selling snake oil to the public. It’s worse that people find out her claims are false when put to the test. It is beyond words that her business has altered documents to create the fiction of loans where none exist.

With Nordien now running the legal practice but Grubisa doing the webinars promoting the asset protection product, we wonder what sort of advice clients of Assure Lawyers will receive.

The terms of conditions for the asset protection product on DG Institute’s website are quite simply bizarre.

They say the documents (AP Documents) ‘are general only’ and do not constitute a financial or legal service. The customer is apparently responsible for determining whether they are suitable for the customer’s circumstances.

A long way from the claim made in the webinar in which Grubisa spruiks the “product” in which she says:

“The benefits of this are that it is tailor-made for you. It is a bespoke security system built from the ground up for your protection.”

And:

“We prepare... a written plan of attack for how the security system is going to fit around you and protect your assets.”

Sounds very much like financial or legal advice to us!

The terms also provide that ‘the Company does not provide any warranties or guarantees regarding the AP Documents’.

Grubisa may wish to remind herself of the consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law and the claims she makes in her webinar such as:

“You own nothing but control everything. You can focus then on what you do best, which is growing more wealth, resting easy that you’ve protected against the downside.”

People who sign up for the package are offered free 30-minute consultations with a lawyer or business adviser nominated by Grubisa’s company, Master Wealth Control Pty Ltd (MWC — no doubt Assure Lawyers) but advice regarding the AP Documents is excluded as are disputes or matters that directly or indirectly involve MWC, it’s associated entitles, directors, agents and/or employees.

So, no asking Nordien whether Grubisa’s claims are false!  

Is it any wonder that the CEO of ARITA is bewildered?

With people facing very genuine financial headwinds, how many will find that Grubisa’s claims about becoming financially invincible do not measure up if they get into trouble? How many will lose homes and businesses relying upon Grubisa’s advice? 

Hamlet Act 1, Scene 4 (adapted):

Marcellus: ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.’

Horatio: ‘Heaven will direct it.’

IA: ‘Might also want to get heaven to give the legal regulators some directions!’

Follow IA founder David G Donovan on Twitter @davrosz. Also, follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus, on Facebook HERE and on Instagram HERE.

Related Articles

Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.

 
Recent articles by David Donovan
How Howard screwed the Libs

John Howard somehow made his way into power in Australia, staying PM for 11 long ...  
Victorian mainstream media very mad about Dan Andrews — stark raving mad

Any sense of ethics and sanity has disappeared from the Victorian mainstream media ...  
Grubisa gets the band back together — well, a duet at least

Dominque Grubisa has decided to reach beyond her comfort zone to call upon the ...  

Comments disabled temporarily due to fault in comments system, apologies for any inconvenience.

Support IAIndependent Australia

Subscribe to IA and investigate Australia today.

Close Subscribe Donate