ASIC is seeking injunctions against Mr. Scholz, including to restrain him from operating such a business in the future. He had built a following of 21,000 followers on Instagram alone with posts such as driving a $720,000 blue 2017 Aventador S with “ASX Bull” license plate, mixed with images of actions and transactions.
ASIC, led by Sophie Callan SC, claimed stocks were promoted at some seminars. Still, Mr. Scholz’s defense, led by Robert Dick SC, argued that the seminars overwhelmingly focused on basic business information with stock mentions primarily for case studies.
A witness appearing via video link on Thursday was Andrew Geard, based in Tasmania, who had attended Mr Scholz’s seminar.
Mr Geard, who also read the financial press and reviewed stock databases such as Morningstar, said the seminar he attended online in February last year contained some fairly introductory information from Mr. Scholz. “He certainly didn’t [push] a stock or a product,” Mr. Geard said.
Mr Geard had subsequently paid $750 – a reduced fee – to access the Discord chat room “Black Wolf”. The court heard there was a disclaimer about people seeking their own advice before negotiating, although Mr Geard struggled to remember the details, saying he could have scrolled it for 10 seconds, similar to login requirements for a variety of services.
Mr Geard said he subscribed to Discord to find stock information. “You’re always looking for that rising share,” Mr. Geard said.
When questioned by Mr. Dick, Mr. Geard said he understood that it was up to him to get his own advice on actions that members were discussing in the chat channels, and that he did not view the discussions as self-directed investment advice. “The information is there. It’s about whether you accept it or not,” he said.
Mr. Geard said he did not recall any specific messages from Mr. Scholz on the Discord channel.
But he also said he has been “blasé” about certain investments at times, usually taking information from Mr. Scholz’s posts on Instagram and discussions in general on Discord.
Still, he agreed that he didn’t take that as specific advice for himself.
“No one intimidated me to buy [stocks],” he said.
The case before Judge Kylie Downes continues.
The court already heard this week of allegations that Mr. Scholz encouraged other followers to take on specific actions before releasing information to a wider audience, such as Instagram.
On one occasion Mr Scholz is also accused of messaging a Discord subscriber called ‘CommSec Queen’ to buy shares in small miner Magnum Mining and Exploration at less than 10c per share. After CommSec Queen acquired 20,000 shares, Mr. Scholz reportedly wrote, “I have heaps. Will fall in groups in 10″.
In another post on WeChat, read in court, Mr Scholz also allegedly wrote to one person that they should “take a stand and spread the word”. He reportedly wrote that people couldn’t be charged a fee in this case and “that’s why they can get away with it”.