For many years, ‘book-up’ has been an ongoing problem in the Mintabie township in the far north of South Australia. Mintabie is located on an opal field which is part of an area leased to the Government of South Australia from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands).
‘Book-up’ is the practice of store owners taking customers’ debit cards and PIN numbers that are linked to a bank account into which their income is paid, as security for purchases they buy on credit. This arrangement gives the store owners free and easy access to customers’ accounts and to their money. This access can enable the shop owner to use the debit cards and the PINs to withdraw all or nearly all of the monies in the account to pay off the customer’s debts.
On 9 November 2016, the Honourable Justice White of the Federal Court of Australia confirmed that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) application that alleged that the owner of Nobby’s Mintabie General Store, Mr Lindsay Kobelt, had from 1 July 2011 until at least April 2014, contravened section 29 of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth) Act in providing credit to people who bought motor vehicles from him. Section 29 of this Act prohibits a person from engaging in a ‘credit activity’ if the person does not hold a licence authorising the person to engage in the credit activity.
The Court also found that Mr Kobelt has contravened section 12CB of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth) by providing ‘book-up’ – which included taking possession of the customers’ debit cards and PINs and transferring to himself in repayment of the customers’ debt the whole, or nearly the whole, of the credit balance in the customers’ accounts from time to time. ASIC had alleged that Mr Kobelt was guilty of ‘unconscionable conduct’.
Having ruled that Mr Kobelt had contravened both the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth) Act and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth), Justice White indicated that the matter has been adjourned until a date set by the Court for the determination of relief and costs.
The full transcript of the Federal Court judgement can be found here.
For an earlier Paper Tracker web post about Mintabie, click here.