Property investor takes ABC to court over “reckless indifference to the truth”

A Brisbane property investor and ABC are set to face off in court about news stories that allegedly showed “reckless indifference to the truth” and cost the wealthy businessman millions of dollars.

Kevin Young, founder of the Property Club real estate investment advice service, is suing the national broadcaster for damages he claims the organisation’s news stories caused him and his business.

In documents lodged with the Federal Court, Young alleged ABC stories published online and broadcast on the 7.30 program in 2014 made it appear that him and his business, previously known as The Investors Club (TIC), “acted fraudulently by preparing loan documents for a retired couple which they knew contained false and overstated financial .rmation,” reported.

The ABC stories also allegedly made it appear like Young and his business’s conduct caused the couple to lose their savings.

According to court documents, Young or his business did not prepare any loan documents for the couple, nor did they act fraudulently or have any responsibility for the couple’s financial loss.

ABC denied the stories conveyed any of those meanings. Court documents prepared by the broadcaster’s legal team acknowledged, however, that an online version of the story about Young’s business had been “amended” in December 2014.

From the original text in the ABC story saying lawyers representing the retired couple had alleged “TIC, a branch manager and mortgage broker secured loans using falsified documents,” it was changed to: “lawyers… allege that a mortgage broker involved in the scheme secured loans using falsified documents,” reported.

A further editor’s note was attached to the bottom of the online story, at around the same time the change was made, clarifying the allegation about falsifying documents was made against an unnamed mortgage broker and not Young or his business.

Another editor’s note was put up in 2015, saying the retired couple involved in the 7.30 story had settled the legal case referred to in the report and that the judgement entered was in favour of The Investors Club and the mortgage broker.

Court documents lodged on Young’s behalf stated ABC acted maliciously and showed “reckless indifference to the truth or falsity” in its representations of Young and his business in the story.

In response, ABC denied it was recklessly indifferent, motivated by an improper purpose, or that it “knew any of the statements made or conveyed by the publications were false.”

Regarding the claim for damages, court documents filed on behalf of ABC said the broadcaster believes that even if Young incurred a loss “it does not follow that that was as a consequence of the representations alleged” in the news stories, reported.

Young claimed after the ABC stories were aired, ANZ backtracked on its decision to offer him a $20 million loan – a move that forced him to sell numerous residential properties to reduce a $10 million debt owed to the National Australia Bank.

“Since the broadcast of the publications, inquiries to the applicant’s business have significantly fallen and the applicant’s income has been substantially reduced,” court documents submitted on behalf of Young said.

The final hearing into the dispute is set to start on Oct. 24 and is expected to run for a week, reported.