The Federal Court yesterday declared that cancer cure and other claims promoted by several NuEra companies* under The RANA System breached the Trade Practices Act 1974.
The court also declared that Mr Paul John Rana and his sons, Mr Christopher James Rana and Mr Micheal* Lee Rana, were personally involved in certain of the breaches by the NuEra companies**.
The action was taken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The court declared that the NuEra companies largely through the agency of Mr Paul Rana, and with the assistance of his sons, engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations in breach of the Act by representing to persons suffering terminal illnesses (including cancer) and to their families that The RANA System:
- could cure cancer, or reverse, stop or slow its progress or would prolong the life of a person suffering cancer, when this was not the case, and
- was based on generally accepted science, when this was not correct.
The court also declared that NuEra Health Pty Ltd (In Liquidation) and Mr Paul Rana had engaged in unconscionable conduct*** towards highly vulnerable consumers when "signing them up" to pay for treatment under The RANA System.
The RANA System was described as "an alternative approach to cancer care which offers HOPE to cancer sufferers". It was provided through programs costing up to $35,000. It offered a variety of products and services including, vitamin and mineral supplements, laetrile (also known as vitamin B 17), Cesium or high PH therapy, devices called parasite/energy zappers, Zen Chi Massages Magnetic Pulsers, coffee enemas, ozone therapy, diets described as eating according to blood type, live blood analysis and thermal imaging.
When making the orders against the NuEra companies and the Ranas, Justice Ryan characterised the conduct engaged in by the respondents as being of the most reprehensible kind, revealing a cynical and heartless exploitation of cancer victims and their families when at their most vulnerable.
He noted that Mr Paul Rana was the controlling mind behind The Rana System, had personally taken a leading role in the offending conduct and had extorted payments of large sums of money of up to $35,000 from cancer victims and their families.
He observed that Mr Paul Rana had made the various misleading and false claims knowing them to be untrue or having no reasonable grounds for making them. He also made similar observations about Mr Paul Rana's sons.
When declaring that the NuEra companies acted unconscionably and that Mr Paul Rana was involved in this contravention, Justice Ryan remarked that the conduct was unconscionable in the full sense meant under the Trade Practices Act.
The NuEra companies, Mr Paul Rana, Mr Christopher Rana and Mr Micheal Rana have been permanently restrained by the court from engaging in any of the offending conduct. The court also ordered that a notice be posted on various NuEra websites owned or operated by the respondents advising the public of the findings of the court and the orders made.
The NuEra companies, Mr Paul Rana and his sons were also ordered to pay the ACCC's fixed costs of the proceedings.
"The ACCC recognized the potential serious harm to vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the public by moving swiftly to bring these proceedings," ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today. "This involved making an urgent application to the court to restrain Mr Paul Rana and the other respondents from continuing to engage in the alleged offending conduct until the matter was heard.
"It was of particular concern to the ACCC that the case involved unconscionable conduct towards persons suffering from terminal cancer and that significant sums of money were extracted from these persons and their families on the basis of false hopes that the sufferers could be cured or their lives prolonged.
"The ACCC is a significant and key player in the consumer protection landscape. The court's orders and Justice Ryan's observations in this matter confirm the importance of the ACCC’s role in this regard."
Mr Samuel said the present case exemplified the ACCC's public interest role and should send a clear message to those considering engaging in similar conduct that the ACCC will take quick and decisive action against such offensive conduct which blatantly exploits vulnerable members of the community.
The filing of proceedings follows a joint investigation by the ACCC and Consumer Affairs Victoria into the promotion of The RANA System by the NuEra companies and the Ranas.
The court's findings now conclude proceedings brought by the ACCC in November 2006 against Mr Paul Rana, his sons and the NuEra companies.
**NuEra Health Pty Ltd (In Liquidation), NuEra Care Centre Pty Ltd (in Liquidation), NuEra Investments Pty Ltd, NuEra Wellness Centre Pty Ltd and NuEra Wellness Clinic Pty Ltd.
***The judicial meaning of unconscionable conduct has not been settled but the courts in considering the issue have described unconscionable conduct as something being clearly unfair and unreasonable, conduct which shows no regard for conscience and conduct which is irreconcilable with what is right or reasonable.
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