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BFCSA investigates fraud involving lenders, spruikers and financial planners worldwide.  Full Doc, Low Doc, No Doc loans, Lines of Credit and Buffer loans appear to be normal profit making financial products, however, these loans are set to implode within seven years.  For the past two decades, Ms Brailey, President of BFCSA (Inc), has been a tireless campaigner, championing the cause of older and low income people around the Globe who have fallen victim to banking and finance scams.  She has found that people of all ages are being targeted by Bankers offering faulty lending products. BFCSA warn that anyone who has signed up for one of these financial products, is in grave danger of losing their home.

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BFCSA: Prime Minister of Australia STERLING GROUP COLLAPSE and ASIC FIASCO: $36 Million Compensation

Posted by on in ROYAL COMMISSION INTO ASIC NEGLIGENCE
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12th July 2019

 

PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA

Hon. Scott Morrison MP

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

P O Box 6500

Canberra ACT 2600

 

Dear Prime Minister Morrison,

THE STERLING GROUP COLLAPSE and ASIC FIASCO:  $36 Million Compensation

Elderly Residents have again been tricked into selling their homes and paying $300,000 up front to Sterling Group for a forty-year rental style lease. Stressed people are currently facing immediate eviction and being threatened by heavily conflicted property managers. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (“ASIC”) is totally responsible for this  unacceptable situation.

Landlords, who signed up to buy the property because of the forty-year leases, are left with mortgages averaging $400,000 that can no longer be serviced by the Tenants and yet the Tenants are in fear of eviction and being menaced constantly by the companies that ASIC permitted to fester in the corporate sector.  Properties have been consistently over valued by up to $150,000.  Bankers involved should explain the reasons for inappropriate approvals. Rentals are consistently over-estimated by $100 or more, per week.  The rental payments to the Banks are double that agreed to tenancy contracts.  Both tenants and landlords were deceived as to payments and 40-year expectations.  No risks were explained.

Welcome to “buyer beware” chaos and loss.  I am writing to you as Prime Minister because this national white-collar crime issue and the 20-year evidence of regulatory neglect re consumer protection is in urgent need of a whole of Government approach.

 

Consumer Protection in Australia, has been neglected for the past twenty years, clearly obvious by the surge in white collar crime and why elderly people and life savings have become the favourite target of criminally minded people: evidenced by a staggering guesstimates of $100 billion in retiree and pensioner losses to date, rising rapidly during the past two decades. 

At every opportunity of reform presented to ASIC, the regulator failed in its key roles:Markets, Consumer Protection and discipline of the Corporate sector.  The failure of any vital functions would recognisably cause serious harm to the nation’s economy.

I have detailed the findings of my research of the Sterling collapse in recent letters to The Treasurer, Mr Frydenberg, and to ASIC Chairman Mr James Shipton.  Many of the victims have written of their own experiences and grief in a series of recent letters.  To date there has been no response. 

We understand this ‘Rent for Life’ scam is one that is well known in America and, with the early knowledge that ASIC had on its files, could have easily and quickly been prevented from festering here in Australia.  

Clearly, the losses for consumers ought to have been the first consideration.

ASIC has known of these “cast of characters” for many years and include famous collapses in the past, traced back to 2001 Ponzi structure known as Westpoint, where $680 million was lost on ASIC’s watch.   The Ponzi business model is frequently and intentionally created to entice people who were considering selling their homes and would be “cashed up.”

ASIC identified the criminal model and cast of characters in the late nineties and permitted the same Ponzi businesses to flourish, long after the first similar structures were investigated. 

Despite a few upset customers of the Sterling Group of Companies and its predecessors reporting to ASIC, little action was taken to stem the flow of theft, and even less effort to place stop orders on the known companies: 2011 - 2010.  The regulators failed to take any meaningful action against Sterling Life Group, or its directors despite years of valuable evidence presenting a negative picture against those involved.   ASIC was negligent in this case for a period of 9 years as one Ponzi structure was piled into a second version and the evidence buried to the detriment of consumers.   In 2015 two victims complained to the state authorities in Western Australia.  ASIC was notified of breaches of state laws and also corporate laws and also local council regulations.

Investigators knew that those Investors dragged into the original group were churned into roll overs and from there offered fake shares.  Every claim uttered by Sterling was false.  For 9 years the claims for listing on the Australian Stock Exchange were completely untrue both in action and intention.  ASIC’s response was to ensure two complainants received a settlement in 2016. Yet in a Ponzi structure these funds would have come from the pockets of the last two victims. This was a classic ASIC “sweep under the carpet” approach.

Consumers thought a 40 lease was an excellent idea. As always, the spiel was slick and pre-empted by the use of Information Memorandums that I had personally complained about to ASIC executives in 1999 - 2005.  Innocent and decent Australians had no idea of the danger.

The spiel used was slick and presented well.  The victims explain: “we though the fact we could sell our house and move into a permanent rental home, and have a few dollars left over.  But then we were advised to place the balance of funds into short term shares.  In just two years we have been left with nothing and now receive threats of eviction for the rentals.”

Please refer to Appendix “A” for the wording used in Sterling propaganda paraphernalia in terms of the Government and the Treasury. 

Landlords were encouraged to purchase over-priced homes that have proven to be a minimum of $150,000 over-priced properties with utterly unachievable rental quotations. Of concern is the fact that Major Banks have approved inappropriate loans, causing even greater personal tragedies and losses.  I am dealing directly with executives of these banks at the moment and on behalf of Landlords.

NEGLIGENCE is when ASIC admits to being warned by state authorities of the danger posed to any ordinary citizen and yet fully cognisant of the shocking consequences, ASIC does nothing to protect vulnerable consumers.  The Federal Regulator made a conscious decision to keep this vital knowledge secret from the public, knowing the catastrophic risk to older persons.

Today the victims are learning the rent paid by the tenants were 50% of the actual monies taken from their savings by the Landlords.  Tenants had no knowledge of their savings not being placed in a trust account.  I have often warned ASIC of the word TRUST being used in Company names permitted by the regulator.  The bank accounts were being used as the directors’ own “piggy banks.”

Whatever excuses ASIC may decide to bleat, the devastation of being over 60 and being told your life savings that you were encouraged to hand over couple of years ago, has been stolen. What a devastating experience for any age group?  The Liquidators are confirming there are ZERO funds available for anyone, except the primary banker.

 

My Own Personal and historical warnings to ASIC:

In 2001,  I warned ASIC: “If you do not put a stop order on this model of business within 2 years $300 million will be stolen.”  That same Ponzi Structure collapsed with retirees losing a staggering $680 million in lost retiree funds.  Centrelink was flooded with new applications for permanent assistance.  Retirees were churned into becoming Pensioners.

In 1999, I complained to the Prime Minister of vulnerable retirees having to suffer the indignity they feared the most – sitting in a Centrelink Office and waiting for a number to be called.  Every collapse brought fresh clientele to start queuing for Centerlink assistance.  I asked: “How does the growth of obligations for Centrelink (due to white collar crime) help the economy?”

I am unashamedly briefing you Prime Minister; in the probability you have been incorrectly briefed in the past as Treasurer.

Your Minister Hon. Stuart Roberts MP will be receiving a letter shortly from BFCSA regarding Centrelink’s misguided approach that the people affected are falsely deemed to be the homeowners.  They are Tenants under tenancy agreements.  It is a chaotic situation right now.

 

I argued in 2001: “Ponzi’s are a global phenomenon started in America in the  1920’s by one, Charles Ponzi.  At that ASIC meeting no-one was familiar with Mr Ponzi.  I can accept that part. 

However soon after, ASIC did place Ponzi warnings on a website that few knew existed. Yet few cases are given to the CDPP.  ASIC chooses to hand out fines as if they were parking tickets.

In the years 2000 and again in 2001, I had several meetings with ASIC Commissioners as to serious concerns over the use of Ponzi Structures in the corporate sector.  Quite simply my solution: “close it down.”  ASIC luminaries pontificated on why they chose to take no action.  One of the key phrases used: Buyer Beware.   The overall excuse from the top down has been “we cannot look after everyone.”

 My answer;  People cannot beware of something they are unaware of."  ASIC is aware of the danger to vulnerable consumers and yet keeps the danger signs under lock and key in the basement.   This is akin to a main roads department knowing the bridge has collapsed and deciding to place NO warnings sign – “stop: bridge collapse ahead” – on the safest point of the approach.  Retirees and pensioners have for 40 years been the primary target market.

The Federal Members of Parliament are no strangers to these complaints against the regulator. Evidence by the sheer number of collapses and stolen loot. Have we learned nothing from Storm, ACR, Fincorp, Westpoint, Kebbel, Radisson Mayne, and a list of at least 500 others.  All these collapses are tied to property, banks, and financial advice.  This largesse was grand theft of the following generation’s own financial future.

How many billions of dollars of stolen life savings have been sent over to the Cayman’s?

ASIC’S  specific attitude has resulted in the escalation of the criminal population in Australia.  No matter what lessons of history have been presented to ASIC during the past twenty years, the same businesses continue to thrive and rebirth, riddled with deceit, and high risk. 

The $450million budget granted by Treasury each year, is a waste for simply employing a useless bunch of  librarians, that reports to Treasury once per month. 

Had ASIC behaved in an aggressive proactive behaviour, every one of these latest victims of white-collar crime,  could have been spared this agony. Scammers continually seek out the next generations’ inheritance money.

By mid-2005 ASIC had permitted one director of the future Titanic  to “jump ship.” That meant the entire collapsed Ponzi now worth zero, could be set up with same characters into Ponzi scams number 2,3,4,5 and so on. Each collapse produces another embryo.

 

This is the coal face of Australia’s unfettered white-collar crime epidemic during the past 23 years. 

Lack of rigid investigations and strong policing policies is a direct cause of ASIC’s FAILURE to adhere to its core duty of Consumer Protection is an historical testimony of how not to manage a crisis. 

It appears the pain and agony suffered by this continual stream of corporate grand theft, leaving the elderly with no protection and even worse: treating them as if they are “silly ole moo’s,” is utterly disgraceful and contemptible behaviour of any government department towards Australian citizens.

To avoid these extremely high losses, consumer protection laws were fiercely lobbied for and implemented over the past three decades.  Someone has to be responsible for the ridiculous policy of Buyer Beware where those long fought for laws are left dormant in the basement.

For any regulator to withhold vital evidence of risk to the detriment of the general public is unacceptable.

 

CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE.

ASIC is so on the nose it has failed the Pub Test.  In the Hayne Royal Commission, we heard lots of waffle from the mouth of ex Goldman Sachs banker, Chairman James Shipton: no apologies, pots of arrogance as if consumers were second rate citizens. The audience present just wanted to “throttle him,” as  one consumer told me.  Then viewers heard the RC audience ‘gasp’ during revelations that ASIC luminaries all receive “performance bonuses.”

Ponzi’s continued where Mr Lucy suggested $5 Billion at risk, yet two years later, Mr D’Aloisio suggested closer to $100 billion of other people’s money at risk. Without the benefit of an affective and tough regulator – a strong minded corporate cop on the beat - we have anarchy. Our economy is then under extreme threat as white-collar gangs roam the Australian Universe.

Between 2007 – 2011  the same “mob” set up more companies with the regulator’s blessing.  They moved on in 2011 to set up ‘Sterling New Life’ and 11 companies created another round of mayhem with ASIC’s blessing: The STERLING GROUP. 

Their intention - with the help of Singaporean contacts to grab all “rental management businesses” in Australia.  ASIC aided and abetted these plans by allowing the same well known “cast of characters” to set up new companies as the old ones were dismantled.

Mr Prime Minister, does this sound like a novel to you? 

The victims of these scams are decent hardworking Australian citizens and that is precisely why they are the target.  The Australian Government can no longer suggest to global oligarchs, none of this happens in Australia.  If that is the case, then respectfully, what have I been dealing with the past 25 years? 

For me to sit at a kitchen table and explain to some frail elderly couple or person, their entire life savings have been stolen is a shattering event.  They are not praying for a miracle; they want an immediate remedy to end that suffering. That requires signing of a cheque for $36 million.  Today would be appreciated. 

The Attorney General, Mr Christian Porter MP, Mr Andrew Hastie MP and Mr Ian Goodenough MP and would appreciate assistance for the victims who reside in those constituencies.

To explain that ASIC COULD NOT CARE LESS is even harsher punishment than the loss.  It is decades past the time of saying: “who cares.”  The families and extended families are more than angry.  Their parents did not deserve such neglect nor the callous response letters from lazy regulators. 

People paid their taxes, in the expectation that if they were targeted and robbed, a policeman would appear, as would occur if their home was burgled.

Nowadays, white collar crime has become a normal business model for experienced thieves. ASIC has become the protector of “bandits in suits.” The modern crime barons steal your home and life savings. ASIC then suggest: “we know the names of these villains, but we are not telling the public.”  ASIC then conveniently blame consumers. 

This laizez faire attitude can no longer be tolerated by the Australian Federal Government.

On behalf of those affected, we demand under Freedom of Information that all monthly meeting notes between ASIC and Treasury  2001 – 2019 be made available to the constituents. 

 

IN CONCLUSION:

Corporate Ponzi structures created by a continual stream of white-collar criminals, pose a clear and present danger to the economy and the nation.

Consumers have had enough of this nonsense.  I have enough historical evidence of ASIC’S failures and disgraceful record.  The collapse of STERLING GROUP justifiably brings everything back into question again. 

Today, we have at least 4 persons suffering terminal illness.  The first death is expected soon, and funerals need to be considered.  Tenants are suffering the stress of being thrown out of their homes.  Such is the urgency of these demands for compensation being made available immediately.

ASIC’S sustained criminal negligence is deserving of an immediate resolution by either ASIC or Treasury making the tough decision.  We are asking that due to the urgency of this disaster,  $36 million must be paid to the victims of the STERLING GROUP within five weeks or less.  

We will make arrangements for those funds to be paid to a nominated law firm and for the funds to be placed in trust for experienced and expedient distribution.

The pain and suffering and stress is immense on older people and as a nation we should respect these people. It’s the decent thing to do.  In addition, ASIC owes a strongly worded public apology for failing Australian Consumers of all ages, during the past 20 years and a special public apology for those who are no longer with us. 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Denise L Brailey

 

President of BFCSA (Inc) BPolSc, BLS, BaCrim, Adv Dip Accting.

Banking and Finance Consumers Support Association (Inc)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Mob: 0401 642 344

 

 APPENDIX “A”

 

18 March 15

Sterling New Life now offers a unique structure in Australia that provides retirees with affordable independent living and an opportunity to increase their retirement income. The demand from retirees looking for housing and income solutions is rapidly increasing and providing solutions to retirees is now strongly supported by the government.

 The March 2015 Intergenerational Report issued by the Federal Treasury has highlighted the need to boost retirement incomes and supply affordable housing solutions for retirees.

 

Currently about 184,000 Australians live in retirement villages, or 5.7 per cent of the over 65 population. This penetration rate is projected to increase to 7.5 per cent in 2025. The increased rate, combined with the increase in the seniors’ population, means that there will be approximately 382,000 people wanting to live in a retirement village home. As such, a large amount of investment will be needed in the sector in coming years.

 

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