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BFCSA: Angry Letters from Victims of Lazy ASIC re Sterling Collapse # 52

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Australian Securities & Investments Commission,
120 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000


To Mr Shipton,


The Collapse of the STERLING LIFE GROUP - A Failure of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission


This is an urgent demand for compensation from ASIC of $26 million within 8 weeks due to what can at minimum be described as ‘criminal negligence’ which resulted in around 100 retirees losing their life savings to a company which ASIC was fully aware had red flags all over it.

I don’t have a lot of money. I had some equity in my home and thought that Sterling First seemed like a genuine company with a good plan in an to help Australian retirees. I did not just flippantly throw my money at this company. When I invested in Sterling First there was absolutely nothing on the internet or in any media from ASIC to warn the public that there were known concerns about Sterling First and that ASIC were in the process of an investigation.

In 2015 ASIC were alerted to the failure of the Sterling Group, along with previous company collapses, like Westpoint, and other white-collar crimes that the directors had been involved in, and their breaches of corporation Law. There were many breaches under both State and Federal Law but nothing was done to protect consumers.


ASIC has an arsenal of evidence against the cast of characters involved in Sterling Life Group, dating back to 2001. ASIC had a duty to take action years ago and failed every consumer and investor caught in this latest round of collapses. ASIC knew that the specific target of these companies was Australian retiree’s entire savings accounts and they did absolutely nothing to stop it.


ASIC has failed all consumers, especially our vulnerable elderly, who ASIC has allowed to be preyed upon by known offenders. ASIC has completely disregarded the devastating effects of financial ruin on these people who had money saved for their retirement.  


Had ASIC done their job at the time, this all would have ended before it begun.

I am still hearing new stories every day; Like how THETA, the trust managers, have reported that this system was never set up as a trust, and was always operating very similar to a Ponzi scheme, which ASIC had also known for years. These few examples I’ve mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg.

Failure by ASIC to act on breaches by this group of companies go as far back as 2015.

This is not just total negligence by ASIC, this makes ASIC complicit in Sterling First’s actions, directly contributing to the current situation.

ASIC’s role is detailed as “to enforce and regulate company and financial services laws to protect Australian consumers, investors and creditors.”


This description could not be further from the role ASIC has played in this matter. The people of Australia trust that when they put their money into a company that ASIC has done their job. ASIC has not even performed the basic requirements of their role in this instance.


We deserve immediate answers to the follow:

1. Q: How much did Directors invest of their own personal funds?

2. Q: Have Passports been seized? If so, on what date? If not, WHY NOT?

3. Q: On what date did ASIC notify APRA of Banking irregularities?

4. Q: On what date did ASIC notify ACCC of obvious False and Misleading advertising?

5. Q: On which date did ASIC realise the companies being registered by certain directors had RED FLAGS in terms of past collapses?

6. Q: What action was taken to ensure the safety of others? And on what DATEs?

7. Q: Why did ASIC NOT take action against Armstrong Jones directors after the 2015 collapse?

8. Q: What were the Armstrong Losses? The # of people whose lives were ruined?

9. Q: How many other companies in Rent for Life 40-year Leases are in existence in Australia?

10. Q: Why didn’t ASIC warn that Retirees were being targeted via advertisements in the local papers?

11. Q: Why did ASIC fail to publicly warn people selling their homes – they were being targeted by SNL?

12. Q: Has the PM and/or Treasurer been notified of this Lease for Life scam and if so, on what date and what was their response?

13. Q: Were the 2016 regulatory concerns re Sterling Life discussed with the Federal Treasurer and or Treasury staff?

14. Q: Is there any justification of why these known scandals, involving huge retiree losses and miseries, be hidden?


At minimum the following must happen:

-         All retirees, investors, homeowners and others who were robbed by Sterling First, with             the backing of ASIC, should be compensated financially, in full.

-         Criminal Charges be laid to the Sterling First group of Directors.


If ASIC had performed their duty in the first place, none of this would have happened. This is why we are demanding that ASIC pay full compensation for their failure. A Government Agency is not exempt from their responsibilities.


As Chairman of ASIC we hope you will take this opportunity to finally show some leadership in this matter and do what is necessary to compensate all involved for your department’s total neglect, inadequate and unacceptable performance and allowing this despicable situation to develop unchecked.

We would hope common sense prevails in this appalling yet highly preventable situation. Delay in decision-making will only further prolong the agony for those retirees suffering such horrendous loss and the potential for homelessness within weeks.

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Guest Wednesday, 20 January 2021