Fingers in every pie......


Victims of collapsed agribusiness investments still pursuing financial advisor over losses


13 July 2015



Eight years after the collapse of managed investment schemes (MIS) in timber, fruit and other projects, attention is again focused on the financial advisers who recruited investors.  A Royal Commission, a judicial inquiry, a reopening of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's investigation are options being discussed by former investors and their advocates.  But the Government has ruled out a Royal Commission into financial services, despite a host of banks, individuals and companies under investigation


Despairing and broke

Naomi Halpern has become a voice for victims, presenting evidence of their shame and despair to theSenate Inquiry last November into the failed agribusiness schemes.  "The first I realised that things were going wrong was in November 2008 when the global financial crisis (GFC) hit and I started to get emails for margin calls," she said.  "The share portfolio had collapsed, loans for agribusiness I didn't know I was in.   "I started to get phone calls from creditors saying you're behind in your repayments. It was a total nightmare. ...........

ASIC confirms it is reviewing more material on Peter Holt

"Well at the moment we are looking at the information we've received from investors and the Holt Norman Baker Action group and just assessing whether there's basis for reopening," said Commissioner Greg Tanzer.   Stung by criticism it is not doing enough to protect people from questionable financial advice, Mr Tanzer said ASIC banned 57 financial advisers last year.  "Just earlier this year, we achieved a sentence of over six years for a criminal case for a financial adviser Melinda Scott, for defrauding 150 of her clients of over $5.9 million."


Independent Senator Nick Xenophon who sits on the Senate Committee said the Government needs to compensate failed agribusiness investors who lost so much money because they were tax incentive schemes.  "We basically know what needs to be done, and that is the victims of these failed schemes, Timbercorp and Great Southern, need to receive compensation to get their lives back on track.


But right now that doesn't exist and there needs to be a political will to help those individuals rebuild their lives," Senator Xenophon said.  But the Federal Assistant Treasurer Joshua Frydenberg said there is no plan to hold a Royal Commission, nor offer individuals more




Josh Frydenberg defends investment banking 'culture'


29 May 2015


Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has spoken in defence of the culture in investment banking and the role the industry plays in the economy after suggestions the sector has problems.  "The investment banking scene is very competitive but it has been the same in Australia for many years, as it has been in many other countries, and I wouldn't go out and criticise it particularly as I have experienced it," Mr Frydenberg said.

Mr Frydenberg, who prior to entering politics was head of global banking at Deutsche Bank Australia, was asked if he agreed the investment banking industry had a "culture problem" that warranted the scrutiny it is currently attracting.

On Friday, two of Australia's most powerful regulators stepped up their campaigns for the finance industry to reform its culture to protect consumers.  Speaking at a conference in Singapore on Friday, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority chairman Wayne Byres expressed concern that "something serious is amiss" in the financial services industry despite growing regulatory pressure to improve standards.

Separately, Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman Greg Medcraft told the Stockbrokers Association of Australia's annual conference that the regulator is targeting organisations where culture promotes "greed" and short term incentives that lead to bad outcomes for clients and consumers.  Mr Medcraft was throwing his weight behind comments made by ASIC commissioner Greg Tanzer earlier in the week that financial institutions need to clean up cultural problems, as he revealed that three investment banks are currently under investigation. more