Mayfair 101 boss James Mawhinney arrested and charged with dishonest conduct

Simone Grogan
The Nightly
Mayfair 101 and founder James Mawhinney gained profile in 2019.
Mayfair 101 and founder James Mawhinney gained profile in 2019. Credit: Mayfair 101

Mayfair 101 founder James Mawhinney has been arrested and charged with four counts of dishonest conduct, the latest development amid an ongoing legal tussle between the company developer and ASIC.

Mr Mawhinney was arrested on Tuesday following an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, which has alleged he engaged in dishonest conduct during the course of carrying on a financial services business between April 2019 and April 2020.

Mr Mawhinney — who will defend the charges — appeared before Melbourne Magistrates Court and has been granted conditional bail. He will not be able to leave the country. Mr Mawhinney is due back before the court on June 28.

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The corporate regulator is alleging he “dishonestly misrepresented to the trustee of the IPO Wealth Fund, that the IPO Wealth Group owned two Italian companies, Poveglia S.R.L. and Retta S.R.L, when it did not”.

Mayfair 101 and its founder gained profile in 2019 for a proposal to turn the island of Dunk in Queensland into a new tourism haven.

ASIC moved on proceedings against Mayfair 101 shortly after in 2020 alleging the company had misleadingly advertised its investment products as having a similar level of risk to bank term deposits. What followed has been years of legal back-and-forth between ASIC and Mr Mawhinney, whose entities were fined $30 million in 2022 for misleading advertising.

Mr Mawhinney sued ASIC’s deputy chair Sarah Court for defamation claiming comments made in a press release caused him “distress and embarrassment”.

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