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BFCSA: Angry Letters from Victims of Lazy ASIC re Sterling Collapse # 60

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2nd July 2019

Dear Mr Shipton

Re: The collapse of the Sterling Life Group

I am writing on behalf of my mother, Ann Shepherd, who is one of the pensioners caught up in the collapse of Sterling Life Group. My mother has lost $244,000 of her life savings through the irresponsible and deceitful actions of this company.

My mother is a 79 year old self-funded retiree who immigrated with my father to Australia 15 years ago to join their children and call it their home for the rest of their life.  Through no fault of their own, they had already lost a large amount of their self-funded superannuation money in the 2008 GFC. After the death of my father in 2015, and due to her ageing years, my mother had to make the decision to downsize, releasing capital from her family home which she then invested with Sterling New Life in October 2018. 

The loss of her money through the collapse of Sterling Life Group means that my mother’s remaining years are going to be very tough and involve hardship. My mother wasn’t looking to make money, she just wanted to make her remaining money last longer and have a secure home for life. My mother does not get any assistance from the government and, as Australia is now her home, returning to her country of birth is not an option. The shock and stress of this situation has resulted in my mother having heightened anxiety about her future and sleepless nights. Undoubtedly, this will have a negative impact on both her physiological and psychological health.

When we decided, as a family, to invest in Sterling New Life, we fully investigated this company, taking the necessary steps such as getting independent legal & financial advice. We also researched the company through the ASIC register and ‘companies you should not deal with’ list, but saw no warning published for Sterling Life Group. We had no reason to believe that my mother’s investment was anything other than safe and secure. I am absolutely disgusted that this has happened to an elderly person who is vulnerable and doesn’t need this additional stress at her time of life. 

We are so lucky to have Denise Brailey on our side and we, as a group, will not let this rest and will keep fighting for justice.  All we want is the money back that was invested. This is why we are asking for $26 million within 8 weeks.

My mother has called Australia home for the last 15 years, has invested in this country and not asked for any financial assistance in return, so what is being asked now is only fair and reasonable. I believe that ASIC has totally failed my mother, and the other victims of this scam, by allowing the Sterling Life Group to continue doing business and taking vulnerable people’s money. In 2016 consumer protection made ASIC aware that Sterling Life Group were breaking many regulations. If ASIC had published a vital early warning on this company when they should have, my mother would not have invested her hard earned life savings and this fiasco would have been prevented.

Therefore, as the chairman of ASIC, please can you explain to me how this company was allowed to carry on selling their lies and deceit after they were brought to the attention of ASIC in 2016?

Yours sincerely,

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