Fake wellness blogger Belle Gibson is expected to be questioned in court today about her claims that she cannot afford to pay a $410,000 fine for conning consumers.
- Gibson tabled two years worth of bank statements to prove she cannot pay the fine
- The lawyer for Consumer Affairs Victoria said those documents would be forensically examined
- Gibson faced a possible arrest order if she did not turn up to the Federal Court hearing
Gibson appeared at the Federal Court with lawyers and documents in hand to respond to a summons pursued by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) after she failed to appear at past hearings.
Gibson faced a possible arrest order if she had not turned up again today.
The Federal Court had previously ordered Gibson to pay the fine by mid-October 2017 after she was found guilty of misleading and deceptive conduct for falsely claiming she had brain cancer that was cured by alternative therapies and nutrition.
Gibson made $420,000 after building a social media empire and releasing The Whole Pantry cookbook and app based on the claims.
She had also falsely told her followers she had donated a large portion of her profits to charities, earlier hearings were told.
The fine includes:
- $90,000 for failing to donate proceeds from the sale of The Whole Pantry app, as publicly advertised
- $50,000 for failing to donate proceeds from the launch of The Whole Pantry app
- $30,000 for failing to donate proceeds from a 2014 Mother’s Day event
- $90,000 for failing to donate other company profits
- $150,000 for failing to donate profits from a week’s app sales to the family of Joshua Schwarz, a boy who had an inoperable brain tumour
She lodged documents today — including two years’ worth of bank statements — which CAV plans to have forensically examined by accountants.
Elle Nikou Madalin, acting for CAV, sought an adjournment to allow the documents to be thoroughly examined.
She told Federal Court Registrar Claire Gitsham that the pile of documents “alludes” to Gibson’s financial position but needed to be verified.
“She has not participated in proceedings until it was apparent that there might be some consequences,” Ms Madalin told the court.
“We didn’t know until we rocked up today that she was going to produce anything at all.”
Gibson’s lawyer Andrew Tragardh opposed the adjournment.
He argued his client had done everything she was asked to do.
He accused CAV of being run in “a rather outrageous fashion, [which] has caused Ms Gibson unnecessary stress and unnecessary costs”.
The hearing will resume before Registrar Gitsham in the Federal Court this afternoon.