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Australia: Fraud charges dropped after witnesses become "unavailable."

Nigel Morris-Cotterill

In a criminal prosecution brought by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, ASIC, the financial regulator, two out of five criminal charges brought against an alleged fraudster were dropped because the witnesses in those cases became "unavailable." The charges related to conducting an unauthorised financial services business and to soliciting moneys which were used improperly.

Nevertheless, the accused has pleaded guilty to the remaining three charges at the door of the court before his trial commenced yesterday.

It's a long and convoluted story across years and jurisdictions as well as various enforcement agencies.

On the first day of the trial, the Munros gave evidence. On the second day, they consented to a range of orders but the final orders could not be made pending the Court's production of a written judgment which included not only the consents but also the Court's reasons for exercising its discretion as to declaratory orders as sought by ASIC.

The case was listed "for mention" on 2nd December and the Munros did not attend. This is not unusual for such a hearing but often someone will "keep a watching brief" i.e. sit in court and report back on whatever is said in case there are new matters put before the court, for example. In this case, the Judge gave the Munros yet another chance, saying they could have until 18th December to file any further submissions if they chose; in the absence of such, the Judge said, he would make the order and judgment.

But that didn't happen until 3rd February 2016 when an order was made against Dr Munro only. ASIC said at the time "the Supreme Court of Queensland has found that Dr Roger Munro breached the Corporations Act by carrying on a financial services business in Australia without holding an Australian financial services AFS licence and has permanently restrained him from doing so. "

It also went on to say "The orders made by the Court do not prevent Dr Munro or Kathleen Munro from returning money to past investors."

That judgment is here: http://archive.sclqld.org.au/q...

That's not the end of it.

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