A Gold Coast car dealer has been forced to pay close to $400,000 in fines and compensation for misleading consumers.
Carrara businessman Andrew Fraser-Scott and his company pleaded guilty to 11 breaches of the Motor Dealers and Chattel Auctioneers Act 2014 and 66 breaches of the Australian Consumer Law in the Southport Magistrates Court on Monday.
Mr Fraser-Scott was fined $30,000 and AFS Corporation Pty Ltd was fined $20,000. The company was also ordered to pay $33,269.52 in compensation to affected consumers.
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No conviction was recorded.
The court also heard Mr Fraser-Scott and his company accepted payment for registration and transfers that he failed to complete, traded unlicensed and failed to maintain a business transaction register as required by law.
The court heard the company advertised it could save customers money by buying a car on their behalf directly from wholesale auctions, but misrepresented the price paid and overcharged consumers.
In sentencing, Magistrate Pamela Dowse found the defendants’ conduct to be “careless and reckless”.
She also noted the defendants’ complete lack of regard for consumer rights, indicating the defendants had engaged in deceptive and criminal conduct yet had showed no remorse.
The Magistrate also noted the defendants had no prior criminal history, that the defendants’ director is undertaking a mental health plan and is about to become a father for the first time, and no conviction was recorded.
This court decision followed a court hearing last month resulting from action by the OFT against Dylan John Thomas Ackroyd-Laycock, a director of AFS Corporation.
In that matter Mr Ackroyd-Laycock, pleaded guilty to one breach of the MDCA and 12 of the ACL, relating to misleading consumers about the price of vehicles.
Mr Ackroyd-Laycock was fined $2,500.
The OFT told the court Mr Ackroyd-Laycock knowingly employed a motor vehicle salesman who did not hold a registration certificate and provided misleading contract terms relating to services being provided and the licence status of the corporation.
In sentencing, Magistrate Joan White noted Mr Ackroyd-Laycock entered an early guilty plea to all 13 changes and expressed remorse for his actions.
Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Craig Turner said the outcome of these matters was a reminder to all motor dealers of their obligations to abide by the law, and their duty to act honestly with consumers.
“The unscrupulous conduct of this corporation and its directors over two years is just not acceptable” Mr Turner said.
“Motor dealers who fail to follow legislation and trade responsibly will be held accountable.”
Mr Turner noted that the court fines and compensation were in addition to $108,476.02 in consumer redress the trader had agreed to provide consumers as a result of OFT negotiations on their behalf.
$175,224.01 was also paid to consumers as a result of claims against the AFAA Fund managed by the OFT.