Dominique Grubisa and DG Institute found to misrepresent and deceive in ACCC court case

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A lawyer and her property investment company have been torn to shreds by a judge for their misleading and deceiving conduct by pedalling a fallacy to customers that was totally inaccurate.

This week, Master Wealth Control Pty Ltd trading as DG Institute and its sole director, self-proclaimed wealth guru Dominique Grubisa, were raked through the coals in the Federal Court.

The ACCC had commenced proceedings against the company over concerns that it had breached the Australian Consumer Law, and alleged that Ms Grubisa knowingly did so.

On Tuesday, the judge, Ian Jackman ruled in favour of the ACCC, eviscerating Ms Grubisa and her company in the process.

DG Institute was found to have made false or misleading representations to consumers when promoting wealth courses between April 2017 and November 2022. In that period, “well over” 3000 students enrolled in the programs, and paid up to $9,200 for the privilege.

Ms Grubisa gave customers advice on how to find “distressed properties” from homeowners who were defaulting on their mortgages, those going through a divorce or a bankruptcy, or in a deceased estate, using various technology platforms.

The best part, she said, was that these properties could be bought at a massive discount, due to the nature of the distressed seller.

The businesswoman claimed that her students were actually doing the distressed homeowner a favour by buying the property for less than it was worth, because banks “do not give change” and if the bank repossessed their property, the owner would miss out on more money and not receive any equity.

Justice Jackson said this was “simply not true” and the claim showed a lack of understanding of the way Australia’s debt system worked.

“In the event of a sale of a property by a mortgagee, the mortgagee is entitled only to the amount owing to it under its agreement with the homeowner as secured by the mortgage, plus its reasonable costs of recovery,” Justice Jackson noted.

“Ms Grubisa must have known that the representations she was making were not true,” he said.

Ms Grubisa’s own legal counsel said the notion that banks would “keep the change” on a property sale and not give back equity to a homeowner was “nonsense” and “absurd” and did not challenge it in court.

The court also heard Ms Grubisa received a bachelor and a master of laws, and was admitted to practice as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW 30 years ago.

“I have not formed a high opinion of Ms Grubisa’s legal competence,” Justice Jackson said.

The court heard DG Institute made substantial gains from the scheme, making $8,876,025 in revenue on one course about buying up distressed property listings, and $9,223,457 on another.

“I am comfortably satisfied … that Ms Grubisa had actual knowledge that …(these representations) which she knew had been made by her, were in fact false and misleading, and thus Ms Grubisa is liable as an accessory,” Justice Jackson concluded.

He said his view was strengthened by the fact that the wealth boss did not front court.

“I draw those inferences with greater confidence in light of the fact that Ms Grubisa did not give evidence at the hearing,” he said.

A DG Institute spokesperson told they were “disappointed” with the court’s findings and they plan to appeal the judgment.

“We will otherwise continue to service and support our clients as usual,” they added.

“We have no further comments at this stage while proceedings are ongoing.”

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The ACCC is seeking court orders to ban Ms Grubisa from running a company.

The government protection agency is baying for her blood, also calling for injunctions, penalties and corrective publications against her and DG Institute.

“This case is another reminder that businesses must ensure statements they make when promoting products or services to consumers are accurate and not misleading,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.

The matter will return to court on April 23.

Chris Baker is a lawyer who has been calling for a stop to DG Institute for the past five years, after providing pro bono legal advice to customers, including some who found themselves being litigated against when the deals went wrong.

He said he first brought the matter to the ACCC’s attention in 2019 calling for Ms Grubisa’s seminars to be shut down.

Mr Baker told that the court judgment was proof that these products were “snake oil”.

Ms Grubisa has also landed in the crosshairs of Greens NSW Senator David Shoebridge, who used parliamentary privilege to put a question on notice about her to the Australian Federal Police.

He asked what the AFP had done to investigate her and when they were first tipped off about her scheme.

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