A dozen interrogations amid ASIC investigation into Jenny Hutson

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The then 460-centre outfit had launched an ultimately failed takeover of rival Affinity Education. The hearing is testing evidence about how another businessman, Nigel Elias, acquired $8.5 million shares in Affinity. Mr Elias has not been charged.

The court on Thursday saw Ms Hutson’s lawyer Neil Clelland, QC, questioning Mathew Bastianon, a senior lawyer with ASIC’s corporations and corporate governance team.

Asked how Ms Hutson had become the primary target of their investigations, Mr Bastianon said that a referral had come to ASIC’s enforcement division after the Takeovers Panel had made findings about parties who had bought shares during the attempted takeover.

“Those associations included links between Ms Hutson and various other persons in relation to the purchases that were undertaken by entities,” Mr Bastianon told the court. That included Mr Elias’ private company West Bridge, he said.

“One of our lines of inquiry was to see if there was any link between Ms Hutson and any of those acquisitions,” he said.

Turning point

Mr Bastianon said a key moment was probably when Mr Elias told ASIC that Ms Hutson had asked him to incorporate a company for the purpose of purchasing shares in Affinity. “At that point in time, a direct connection was made to Ms Hutson,” he said.

He estimated ASIC had issued about a dozen notices for compulsory examination under ASIC’s powerful Section 19 powers. The court also heard five search warrants had been executed on one day in August 2016, including a 6.50am raid on a home in Brisbane’s Red Hill that Ms Hutson had listed as her address.

He was repeatedly questioned about any inconsistencies between initial evidence from witnesses and subsequent official statements to ASIC.

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