Belle Gibson could be made to pay $410k fine
THE state of Victoria is seeking to give fake wellness guru Belle Gibson a scare so she finally pays a $410,000 fine she copped after lying to Australia about having cancer.
Gibson, 26, was fined by the Federal Court in September after she falsely claimed to have brain cancer that she healed with natural remedies, including diet and alternative therapies.
She also lied to supporters about donating income from her Whole Pantry app and book sales to various charities, including to a boy with inoperable brain cancer.
Consumer Affairs Victoria launched legal action against Gibson and a Federal Court judge last year fined her $410,000 for five breaches of consumer law. But Gibson hasn't paid the fine and now the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria is seeking to "warn" the fraudster in a bid to get the money.
The state has made an application for a Federal Court "endorsement" that if granted, could expose Gibson to a prosecution for contempt of court if she doesn't pay the fine.
"It is in the nature of a warning," the director's barrister Elle Nikou Madalin said of the application on Tuesday.
"We are now concerned that there may be contempt down the track.
"We don't want to create a situation where down the track Ms Gibson might try to claim wilful blindness."
Ms Nikou Madalin said Gibson could start paying the fine in instalments and would only be open to contempt action if she refused to pay when she could afford it.
But Gibson's barrister Andrew Tragardh opposed the application, saying only two letters had been received about the fine and there were other avenues to enforce payment.
"This is an unusual, extraordinary and very serious application without proper basis," Mr Tragardh said.
Gibson is currently protected from contempt action by a legal clause that could be overruled with an endorsement order, the court was told.
Justice Debra Mortimer will deliver her ruling on the application at a later date.
When the original fine was handed down, the judge described Gibson as "cavalier" and having a "relentless obsession with herself".
After lying about having cancer, Gibson raked in more than $440,000 from app and book sales and claimed she donated most of it to charity but really only gave away $10,000.
Gibson had faced a maximum penalty of $1.1 million.