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BFCSA: Angry Letters from Victims of Lazy ASIC re Sterling Collapse # 43

Posted by on in ROYAL COMMISSION INTO ASIC NEGLIGENCE
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30 June 2019

Mr James Shipton

Chairman - Australian Securities and Investment Commission

120 Collins Street

Melbourne Victoria 3000

 

Dear Mr Shipton

 

May I refer you back to October 2017, when you commenced in your role. An online

Herald Sun report “Your Money, Our Vigil”…..which I assume was your

accountability.

You should by now be well aware of the Sterling First Group collapse, impacting

hundreds of retirees in Perth and other states. After all, your investigators visited and

interviewed myself and my husband, and took documents in mid 2018.

 

53 years ago, my husband and I arrived in Perth from Scotland as “10 pound Poms”.

It was seen as the land of opportunity if you worked hard and paid your way. My

husband was a qualified tradesperson and I worked part time. We worked hard and

saved in those early days to build our own home in 1970. We raised two sons and

continued to work hard, well into our 60’s, in order to ensure we had a comfortable

retirement life. We have never been rich. Just working class people.

 

Now our life has been utterly devastated. We are 74 and 83 years of age respectively.

With my husband being recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

After seeing several sophisticated adverts, across numerous local newspapers in mid

2016, by a company called Sterling First, we contacted them on their “Sterling New

Life” product offering. It offered “a home of your choosing, a lease for life”. It

described releasing “equity in your home”, whereby the equity would be held in a

trust, with small monthly distributions paying our monthly rent. We understood the

equity/capital would remain and be available to our estate upon our passing - thereby

providing a form of inheritance to our sons in time.

On contacting the company, a representative visited us and described the product and

the process. We spent several weeks discussing and researching the product as it

seemed to be different to anything already in the marketplace.

Our sons both did research and due diligence - looking into available information on

the company performance, directors and even the Responsible Entity - Theta Asset

Management (who's individuals seems to have nearly 100 years experience in Banking

at Executive levels - a safeguard we thought).

 

The representative recommended a real estate agent to sell our home of 47 years, the

one we built back in 1970. He assisted in the marketing and selling via “friend of his”.

He again explained that from the proceeds of sale, nearly $220,000 would be required

(circa $20,000 as set up costs and $198,000 into the Sterling Income Trust -SIT).

Again, the clear message we were getting was the deposited funds would be used to

generate a small amount of “earnings” each month, for the purpose of paying rent on

a future rental villa, which we found in Gosnells. We never heard anything about the

money in SIT being used for anything else. And apparently the value of our deposited

funds in the SIT have gone from circa $198,000 to NOTHING!? And nobody so far

can tell us where the money went?

So we are told we have lost all our money, no longer have our own home and on top

of that, are now told there is no money to pay the rent to the landlord. We are being

told we face possible eviction, with nowhere to go. With only the pension to survive

on.

 

This is having a significant and irreversible impact on our health and wellbeing. My

husband is 83 with Alzheimer's and other health problems and I am 74 and suffer

greatly from arthritis, high blood pressure and asthma. We are unable to sleep or

function properly since learning of this Sterling Group collapse. On top of this we are

extremely angry about how this can happen in 2019, given the amount of Regulation

that is supposed to be in place to protect consumers and especially vulnerable ones.

 

In mid 2018, we had 2 ASIC investigators visit our rental villa, Michael Darch and

Isaac Chien. We didn't know initially why they were there? They asked many

questions and then took paperwork away to copy (which was returned). They did not

indicate the main purpose of their visit, only that they were gathering information.

 

WE DID NOT HEAR FROM THEM OR ASIC again…….and now we find out

ASIC may have been following matters and investigating Sterling First for some time,

possibly as early as 2015/2016 - before we signed up to this devastation.

What has ASIC been doing in relation to this matter since 2015/2016?

 

Why were there no warnings available to consumers when we tried to do some due

diligence on Sterling First/Sterling New Life?

 

Is it true that some of the main people (Directors, Managers, Consultants, licensees

etc) within Sterling First Group have come to the attention of Regulators in the past?

If so, how have they been able to continue in business and allegedly “steal” from

vulnerable, trusting people?

 

WE ARE ANGRY, CONFUSED, ILL OF HEALTH, LOST AND UNABLE TO

TRUST PEOPLE…….WHO DO WE TURN TO HELP PROTECT US FROM

THIS. WE FEEL DUPED. OUR DIGNITY HAS BEEN TAKEN AWAY.

WE HAVE NO ABILITY TO EARN MONEY, HAVE NO MONEY OR ASSETS

LEFT AND POTENTIALLY WILL HAVE NOWHERE TO LIVE. HOW HAS IT

COME TO THIS AFTER WORKING HARD FOR 53 YEARS IN THIS

COUNTRY.

 

WE IMPLORE YOU TO URGENTLY LOOK INTO THIS MATTER.

MICHAEL SUKKAR, YOUR BOSS, EVEN SAYS “THERE IS A WHIFF OF

IMPROPRIETY”, WHEN RECENTLY INTERVIEWED.

TIME IS CRITICAL - WE ARE TOO OLD AND UNHEALTHY TO WAIT FOR

AN INVESTIGATION, THAT TAKES YEARS! WE NEED ACTION AND SO

DO 100’s OF THE OTHER RETIREES WHO ARE CAUGHT UP BY THIS

DODGY COMPANY COLLAPSE.

 

WHAT HAS ASIC BEEN DOING? WHY HAVEN’T YOU AND YOUR PEOPLE

ACTED? WHERE WERE THE WARNINGS? …..BUYER BEWARE DOES NOT

WORK WHEN YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED CROOKS RUNNING

COMPANIES…….THEY OUTSMART THE NORMAL CONSUMER, AND

ALSO ASIC, SO IT SEEMS……

THERE IS REAL HUMAN IMPACT HERE. AS YOU ALLUDED TO ON 24th

OCTOBER 2018, IN YOUR STATEMENT TO THE SENATE ECONOMICS

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE. QUOTE BELOW……

 

Crucially, I want to underscore ASIC’s long recognition of the human

impact of misconduct in finance. Financial misconduct can and does

have a devastating, at times catastrophic impact on individuals and

families.”

 

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. “YOUR MONEY, OUR VIGIL”

WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW?

 

Yours sincerely,

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