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BFCSA: Angry Letters from Victims of Lazy ASIC re Sterling Collapse # 9

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Dear Mr Shipton,


My wife and I are victims of the Sterling First Group financial collapse.

 I am writing this to express in the strongest possible terms our astonishment at ASIC’s lack of inaction in this matter and in the knowledge that ASIC was concerned about the product Sterling First were selling to vulnerable pensioners like us as early as 2015, but more importantly had commenced an investigation into the Sterling First Life Lease product and kept silent about it.

Whilst ASIC as the nation’s regulator can’t be responsible for Sterling First’s collapse it is and has been responsible for not taking appropriate action to stop the Sterling First Group from selling the Life Lease products that did not meet the regulator’s (ASIC) requirements, ASIC as the government’s regulator had a responsibility to act to protect vulnerable people like us from entering into a financial arrangement with a group of companies that ASIC had serious concerns about.

We signed up to a Sterling First life Lease on 18th April 2018, 3 years after ASIC had knowledge and concerns about the product. We carried out a thorough due diligence of Sterling First and didn’t enter into this Life Lease lightly, this was to ensure we would be comfortable in our retirement in the knowledge that we couldn’t afford to buy a house but would have security of living out our remaining years with a ‘Life Lease’ for up to 40 years, hence committing our life savings of $254,000 to ensure we would be rent free and have the finances available to use in the event either one or both of us required nursing home care due to old age or poor health.

As part of our due diligence in late 2017 we were advised by Sterling First’s sales person that some promotional documentation was held up as ASIC had requested some changes to the wording in certain documents but other than that ASIC had no other issues. Following that I searched the Internet for anything related to Sterling First and could only find positive reviews especially from investors reviews in on line forums that this was a great product.

There was absolutely nothing on the internet or in the print media from ASIC to warn the public that ASIC had concerns about Sterling First and that ASIC were in the process of an investigation, had they done so we would not be in the dire situation we now find ourselves in not knowing if we are going to be evicted as we can’t afford to pay rent out of our fortnightly pension and with no other income.

ASIC failed us and the other 100 Life Lease couples who all are in same situation and failed the property owners who were also scammed into signing their properties into a scheme that was doomed to fail. ASIC must make this right and as the nation’s regulator ASIC must accept responsibility and accountability for total inaction and compensate each and every one of us without delay.

We are not young people with jobs and good health, we are elderly, many in poor health and awaiting possible eviction.We paid into Sterling First Group for a life lease, a company that was not only on the radar of ASIC but was being actively investigated by ASIC at the time we signed up.

ASIC investigators were interviewing a number of SNL tenants as part of the investigation in same time frame that we entered into the arrangement with Sterling and still allowed Sterling First to continue selling a product that ASIC had serious concerns about. The ASIC ‘investigators’ who interviewed the SNL tenants never mentioned to them why they were being interviewed or advised them of ASICs serious concerns about the Sterling Groups on going ability to continue to sell the Life Lease product, they just wanted to see if ‘everything was alright’  What was the relevance of that?

I don’t have a legal background but this must be considered to be one of the worst cases of failure by a Government  regulator (ASIC) in being totally negligent in not carrying out the very thing that ASIC was established for and has to be considered to be a total disregard and neglect of the regulators responsibility.

 We are awaiting to see what our future holds for us in the next few weeks and what ASIC and the Federal Government are going to do about rectifying this intolerable fiasco.

As Chairman of ASIC we hope you will show the leadership required in this matter and do what is necessary to have us compensated for your department’s total neglect, inadequate and unacceptable performance and allowing this despicable situation to develop unchecked.


Yours sincerely

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Guest Sunday, 24 January 2021