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Storm Investors ‘just numbers'

Posted by on in COURTS & LEGALS
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INVESTORS who lost everything when Storm Financial folded were just numbers in a system designed to make the company and banks rich, a court has been told.

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Barrister Allan Myers, representing the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), detailed the personal circumstances of two couples and one individual whose financial security was devastated when the Townsville-based financial services company folded in early 2009.

Mr Myers told the Federal Court in Brisbane on Tuesday that the investors were all aged above 60 and had assets of between $820,000 and $2.6 million prior to joining the Storm family.

The court heard they mortgaged their homes and took margin loans on the advice of Storm.

Mr Myers said they lost everything when the bubble burst, with at least one now living on Centrelink benefits as they try to pay off their newly acquired home-loan debt.

"One can go on dealing with persons who fell into the clutches of Storm and, with the knowing involvement of the banks, lost everything or practically everything," he said.

Mr Myers detailed the investors' losses after telling the court on Monday that the victims "appear to be treated as individuals but in fact they were just numbers that were being churned through".

ASIC is pursuing two banks - Macquarie Bank and the Bank of Queensland - over their involvement.

Mr Myers said ASIC wants the court to declare that the banks were "knowingly concerned in the operation of the unregistered scheme" and were aware investors would lose their money if the market crashed, as it did during the global financial crisis.

The banks supported Storm's standardised "one size fits all" investment scheme, which did not sufficiently consider investors' personal circumstances, the barrister said.

A class action brought against Macquarie and the Commonwealth Bank by investors, many of whom were in court on Monday, is to be heard this year.

ASIC is also pursuing Storm founders Emmanuel and Julie Cassimatis in a separate case.

The hearing continues.

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Guest Monday, 28 September 2020