The Inspector-General in Bankruptcy has cancelled the registrations of Debt Options (Admin) Pty Ltd and Craig Bax as debt agreement administrators, effective 16 December 2021. The decision’s appeal period expired on 14 January 2022.
Mr Bax is the director of Debt Options (Admin) Pty Ltd and was responsible for the management of its debt agreement practice.
In 2020, an inspection by the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) of Debt Options (Admin) Pty Ltd’s debt agreement administrations found there had been a systemic failure to properly verify the information provided by debtors who were proposing debt agreements. Amongst other things, this resulted in some debtors filing debt agreements when they shouldn’t have been able to do so.
The Inspector-General formed the view that Mr Bax was no longer a fit and proper person to maintain registration as a debt agreement administrator. The Bankruptcy Act requires registration to be cancelled once that decision is made.
The Inspector-General’s decision was made after considering the outcome of AFSA’s inspections. It also took into account the May 2021 Supreme Court of Queensland decision dismissing Mr Bax’s application for readmission as a solicitor on the grounds that he did not satisfy the fit and proper standard for solicitors. Mr Bax had been struck off the roll of solicitors in 1998.
Before making the decision to cancel his registration, the Inspector-General gave Mr Bax the opportunity to respond.
AFSA’s acting Chief Executive and Inspector-General in Bankruptcy, Gavin McCosker, noted the importance of registered debt agreement administrators acting with honesty and integrity.
‘One of AFSA’s roles is ensuring confidence in Australia’s personal insolvency system,’ Mr McCosker said.
‘It is important that personal insolvency practitioners are fit and proper people the public can trust, and who discharge their statutory duties diligently.’
‘In this instance, our investigation and the subsequent decision by the Supreme Court of Queensland helped us to determine that Mr Bax no longer meets the definition of a fit and proper person.’