7 Nov 2008

Group hails charges laid against former contractor

11:25 am on 7 November 2008

Franchise group Green Acres has welcomed charges being laid by the Serious Fraud Office, against a former contractor now accused of fraud.

The SFO believes Keith Lapham obtained, by deception, $3,591,900 from more than 170 people, by granting them sub-franchises last year.

The office says Mr Lapham guaranteed buyers $650 a week, that he knew he could not pay.

The former master franchisee also faces two other charges.

Green Acres chief executive, Andrew Chisholm, says the charges vindicate the organisation and it has gone to lengths to ensure other master franchisees are legitimate.

Some of those who purchased the franchises are still investigating the possibility of a civil claim.

Ketan Trivedi, who paid $18,000 for a franchise, has welcomed the charges.

But he says many franchise buyers are struggling, and some have been forced to sell their homes.