Court moves to liquidate ex-ASIC lawyer and adviser's businesses

The Federal Court has made moves to wind up a variety of financial services companies owned by a former ASIC lawyer and her financial adviser husband, after an ASIC investigation found instances of "unauthorised withdrawals of clients' funds".

Following an application by ASIC, the Federal Court in Melbourne has made orders appointing a provisional liquidator to the following companies: Ostrava Equities Pty Ltd, Ostrava Wealth Management Pty Ltd, Ostrava Asset Management Pty Ltd, Ostrava Securities Pty Ltd, Prometheus Capital Pty Ltd, Beta Pharmacology Pty Ltd, Thrive Lending Pty Ltd and Trade BTC Pty Ltd.

The directors of the various companies, Bradley Grimm, a financial adviser, and his wife Vanessa Ash, a lawyer and director of Ostrava Equities Pty Ltd, consented to the orders.

Leanne Chesser and Craig Shepard of KordaMentha have been appointed by the Federal Court as joint and several provisional liquidators.

ASIC's application follows an investigation by the regulator in which it alleges that Mr Grimm and Ms Ash had been involved in multiple contraventions of the corporations legislation including unauthorised withdrawals of client funds and charging of fees by Ostrava Equities Pty Ltd, a company which provides financial services including establishment of self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs).

In a hearing on 20 October 2015, the Federal Court ordered Ms Chesser and Mr Shepard to provide a report to the court and to ASIC by 23 November 2015. The report will include an assessment of the financial position of each of the companies and any suspected contravention of the Corporations Act by the companies, Ms Ash or Mr Grimm.

The court also made orders restraining the companies and Mr Grimm from being involved in a financial services business. Ms Ash gave an undertaking to the court to the same effect.

The matter is listed for a further directions hearing on 18 December 2015.

ASIC commenced legal proceedings in April 2015 against Mr Grimm, Ms Ash and Ostrava Equities Pty Ltd, Ostrava Asset Management Pty Ltd and Ostrava Securities Pty Ltd.

Ms Ash is a current director of Ostrava Equities Pty Ltd and Ostrava Asset Management Pty Ltd. Ostrava Equities is an authorised representative of Marigold Falconer International Ltd. Ms Ash is also a director and authorised representative of Ostrava Securities Pty Ltd (AFSL No 436231).

Mr Grimm is a director of Ostrava Wealth Management, a joint director of Ostrava Asset Management Pty Ltd and former director of Ostrava Equities Pty Ltd. Mr Grimm is also an authorised representative of Ostrava Securities Pty Ltd and Marigold Falconer International Limited.

In May this year the Federal Court froze the couple’s assets and ordered the surrender of their passports.

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