Reverse mortgages are here too, with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission warning “there is a risk”. Not that the product is inherently bad, but ASIC says to get independent advice.
The kicker is who owns certain companies, because it’s not always clear.
One operation is the Australian Seniors Advisory Group (ASAG), which has images of a smiling white couple with gray hair under a kangaroo logo. “ASAG is a local Australian company. Belonging to the family. We’ve been in the lending business for a long time,” a spokesperson in a striped suit explains in a corporate video.
Wave, huh? The actual company name on the website is Panthera Leo, which since June last year has used the trading name Australian Seniors.
We can actually reveal today that Panthera Leo is owned by Swan Group Holdings, according to ASIC records. Who is Swan Group Holdings?
Why, it was shareholder payday loan outfit Cigno that caught ASIC’s attention, and not in a good way. Cigno was among the entities that lost an appeal to the full Federal Court last week over charges that ASIC in a civil lawsuit called “parasitic.”
Swan Group Holdings and Cigno share the same director, Mark Swanepoelwho is a very big unit for a former Super Rugby half-back but also a very polite dude when spoken to.
We reported last year that Swan Group Holdings was focusing on a project called Retire EZ, but it was not yet running and is separate from Australian seniors. Swan Group Holdings, meanwhile, is a revenue earner – its latest accounts for 2021 show it generated around $95 million in revenue, including interest income, paid a $1.26 million dividend. dollars and recorded losses of $3.3 million.
The Federal Court appeal heard that a client’s $200 38-day loan, which involved Cigno, would alone incur a fee of $177.75.
“In any event, the overall costs charged … were very high,” the full Federal Court concluded.
Now, while having the same owner, Australian Seniors itself has a different manager and to be clear we are not claiming that he is scamming his elderly customers. We leave home-related abuse to the professionals in Australia: estate agents and banks.