ASIC seek to take financial services licence off Kris Sayce, the Port Phillip Publishing boss

ASIC seek to take financial services licence off Kris Sayce, the Port Phillip Publishing boss
ASIC seek to take financial services licence off Kris Sayce, the Port Phillip Publishing boss

ASIC has commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against Port Phillip Publishing Pty Ltd (PPP), an online financial publisher and Australian financial services licence (AFSL) holder, and its director and CEO, Kris Sayce.

The proceeding concerns an article promoting an investment strategy which, according to PPP, consumers could adopt to “piggyback”, or mimic the performance of, the Australian Government’s Future Fund. 

The 2017 article which said that the investment strategy would generate monthly income of $540 to $6,667 was not written by Sayce, but Matthew Hibbard.

Sayce promotes himself as "never one to pull punches, especially when it comes to Australia’s hapless bureaucracy and special interest groups."

Once dubbed the ‘Jeremy Clarkson of Australian finance’, Sayce began as a London finance broker specialising in small-cap stock analysis on London’s Alternative Investment Market — which covered everything from Kazakhstani gold miners to toy train companies.

Sayce is a fully accredited advisor in shares, options, warrants and foreign-exchange investments, who spent several years at a leading Australian wealth-management company before he began working at Port Phillip Publishing, where he is the publisher and CEO of the Albert Park-based company. 

The article, which included client testimonials purportedly supporting the strategy, was targeted at retirees.

It was published on two of PPP’s websites and emailed to some 120,000 subscribers. It's open rate has not been revealed.

Readers were able to access the promoted investment strategy by purchasing a detailed guide from PPP for $49.

The document entitled Your Quick Start Guide to ‘Piggybacking’ the Future Fund” was sent to 833 of PPP’s subscribers during the relevant period between September 2017 and January 2018.

ASIC alleges that the article and the guide were misleading and deceptive because consumers could not mimic the performance of the Future Fund by adopting the promoted investment strategy.

ASIC allege PPP did not disclose that the touted returns could only be achieved by investing approximately $154,286 and $1.9 million.

ASIC allege the article did not represent the opinions of Matthew Hibbard, the PPP retirement investment expert.

"Instead, it was substantially copied by one of PPP’s copywriters from an article published by an American related entity of PPP in the United States entitled, Americans Now Legally Piggybacking Canadian Social Security ... And Collecting Extra Monthly Checks from $400 to $4,700.”

ASIC further allege Hibbard had not conducted, as outlined, "research in the order of 900 hours in relation to the investment strategy; and had not connected with over 5,400 people who had generated income by adopting the investment strategy."

ASIC also allege that the three testimonials contained in the article were false.

The testimonials were advised as "folks like":

  • 77 year-old M H a retired farmer living in South Australia, he stumbled across this weird - but lucrative - income strategy a few years back. Since then he’s open to monthly income amounts like $575 and $1,362...
  • Retiree Leon M switched on this secret strategy inside his self-managed super fund...and now collects a monthly income stream of around $540...
  • Or Jolly, who – on average – collects $6,667 each month using this loophole.

ASIC alleges that PPP and Sayce breached various consumer protection provisions of the ASIC Act and Corporations Act, that PPP breached its AFSL obligations, and that Sayce breached his duties as a director of PPP. 

In addition to declarations and financial penalties, ASIC seeks corrective advertising orders, injunctions and disqualification orders against the Frankston South-based Sayce. 

The first hearing of the matter is listed for 22 February 2019.

It is regulatory guide 234 Advertising Financial Products and Services (including credit): Good Practice Guidance (RG234) that provides guidance to help promoters comply with their legal obligations not to make false or misleading statements or engage in misleading and deceptive conduct, ASIC advised.

Port Phillip Publishing claims with its 20 subscription services and five free daily emails that its readers get a "comprehensive insight into the ideas that the mainstream media frequently neglects – or is too lazy to research."

PPP's most recent addition to the stable was Harry Dent Daily, which offers the thoughts of the controversial doomsday property analyst.

Port Phillip Publishing was established in 2005 as the Australian outpost of US publisher, Agora Inc, which was founded by best-selling author and entrepreneur Bill Bonner.

Many of its subscription newsletters are paid: 

• Australian Small Cap Investigator – A$99 annually
• Secret Crypto Network – A$99 annually
• Exponential Stock Investor – A$99 annually
• Phillip J Anderson Cycles, Trends and Forecasts – A$99 annually
• The Gowdie Letter – A$99 annually
• Global Investor – A$99 annually
• Harry Dent Boom & Bust letter – A$99 annually
• Wealth Eruption – A$99 annually
• Money Morning Trader – A$49 monthly
• Crisis & Opportunity – A$149 annually
• Gowdie Family Wealth – A$449 annually
• Revolutionary Tech Investor – A$1,499 annually
• Quant Trader – A$3,499 annually
• Gold & Commodities Stock Trader – A$2,499 annually
• Microcap Trader – A$4,999 annually
• Crash Market Investor – A$2,999 annually
• Crypto Tech Investor – A$2,499 annually
• Extreme Crypto Trader – A$2,999 annually
• Billion Dollar Breakout Trader – A$2,999 annually
• Microcap Global Trader – A$2,999 annually
• Phil Anderson’s Time Trader – A$2,999 annually
• Options Trader – A$3,499 annually

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