The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Clinica Internationale Pty Ltd (Clinica) alleging that Clinica made false or misleading representations and engaged in unconscionable conduct in relation to a program offering migrants training and employment that it represented would lead to permanent residency in Australia.
The ACCC has also alleged that Clinica’s current sole director, Mr Radovan Montague Laski, was knowingly concerned in Clinica’s conduct.
“Clinica’s clients were in many cases newly arrived migrants to Australia. We allege that they were induced to pay significant sums of money on a misleading promise that they would be provided with sponsors and regional jobs which would lead to permanent residency,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
Under the program, between approximately August 2012 and July 2013, Clinica represented to prospective clients through advertisements, oral statements, contracts and receipts that:
- the clients would qualify for permanent residency by completing a 4-week cleaning course and working in a regional cleaning job with a sponsoring employer; and
- Clinica had regional cleaning jobs with sponsoring employers available for the clients at the end of the cleaning course.
It is alleged that these representations were false, misleading or deceptive, because Clinica did not have regional cleaning jobs with sponsoring employers available for clients that participated in the program and, even if the regional cleaning jobs had been available, those cleaning jobs did not meet the skill level requirements necessary for permanent residency under the relevant visa.
It is also alleged that in promoting and implementing the program, Clinica engaged in conduct that was, in all the circumstances, unconscionable.
“The alleged conduct by Clinica targeted some of the most vulnerable groups in our community with a view to profit,” Mr Sims said.
“The ACCC is currently prioritising its work in the area of consumer protection issues impacting on vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers, with a particular focus on consumers who are newly arrived in Australia.”
The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, a disqualification order against Mr Laski, compensation orders for the clients, pecuniary penalties, findings of fact and costs.
The matter has been filed in the Federal Court’s Fast Track List in the Victorian Registry. The first Scheduling Conference is listed before Justice Mortimer on 23 June 2015 at 9:30am.
The ACCC has previously taken action against Mr Laski for misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to the sale and promotion of orange juice vending machines (see ACCC v Michigan Group Pty Ltd  FCA 1439). A copy of the ACCC’s final media release dated 6 February 2003 is available on the website.