A Perth businessman with a taste for classic muscle cars who is alleged to have run a Ponzi scheme and owes hundreds of millions of dollars to investors will have his businesses wound up, under Federal Court orders.
Justice Neil McKerracher found Chris Marco ran a financial services business without a licence as well as an unregistered investment scheme.
It is believed up to 132 investors are owed at least $250 million by Mr Marco, who the corporate watchdog alleges promised high returns because of his ability to tap into international private investment programs.
ASIC alleges Mr Marco used these investor funds to buy property, vintage cars and for related party transactions.
His current assets include a property portfolio as well as a collection of iconic muscle cars each worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including a 1971 Ford Falcon XY GTHO III, 1972 Chrysler Charger VH E49 and 1972 Holden Torana “Bathurst” LJ GTR XU-1.
Receivers Rob Brauer and Rob Kirman, of McGrathNicol, were appointed to Mr Marco’s company AMS Holdings (WA) Pty Ltd and an associated trust by Justice McKerracher.
The directors of AMS Holdings are Mr Marco, who is the only shareholder, and his son Damon Marco, while the beneficiaries of the trust are Mr Marco and his wife.
An interim receivers’ report written earlier this year outlined how Mr Marco attracted a diverse bunch of investors to his scheme, including rates of return of up to seven per cent every three months.
Scheme targeted ‘mum and dad’ investors
“Some are mum-and-dad-type investors who have potentially lost the majority of their retirement assets while others are more sophisticated investors who are financially less dependent on their potentially lost investments,” it said.
The report said Mr Marco had told the receivers there had been “co-mingling of personal, investor and AMS funds in the bank accounts”.
The receivers estimated the realisable value of AMS Holdings assets included $12.7 million in property.
Of the money he received from investors, “$18.4 million has been used to purchase, renovate or maintain property directly by Mr Marco or indirectly by advancing funds to AMS or related funds”, the report said.