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Funds frozen as ASIC investigates possible scam

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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has obtained interim orders against Peter van de Steeg, Jonathan Ezzy, Peter Berlowitz and Scott Walker and their 16 associated companies due to concerns about the possible operation of a Ponzi-style scheme.

The Federal Court in Melbourne ordered that the defendants be restrained from removing from Australia, disposing of, dealing with or diminishing their assets up to the unencumbered value of AUD14.6m.

The matter will be considered further by the Court on 30 April 2010.

ASIC is concerned that the defendants may have been providing, or involved in conducting a financial services business without the necessary Australian Financial Services Licence and without providing the required adequate disclosure to investors.

ASIC is also concerned that investors may have been misled about the nature of the arrangements they were entering into and that the defendants may have breached various provisions of the Corporations Act.

ASIC continues to investigate the activities of the defendants.

Between 2006 and 2009 the defendants appear to have raised around AUD14.6m from more than 100 investors (principally in Victoria) purportedly for the purposes of investing in property and/or foreign exchange trading.

The relevant companies associated with Van de Steeg, Berlowitz, Ezzy and Walker appear principally to have been Contango Investments, Meloka, Teronte, Korlea, Namrepus, DIX-Walker, Arnah, Reeva Investments (now deregistered) and Soteria.

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