Cormann calls for ASIC action

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Shadow Minister of Financial Services and Superannuation, Mathias Cormann, says that shifts in Parliament provide the perfect opportunity to take another look at the Trio collapse.

Cormann attacked former financial services and superannuation Minister Bill Shorten’s response to the fraud, saying he showed “a troubling lack of urgency and engagement on this”.

He called for new Treasurer Chris Bowen to re-consider all the recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee in relation to Trio. This included:

  • Ensuring proper investigations are conducted into the key figures responsible for defrauding investors in Trio
  • Exploring whether unique circumstances justified a level of compensation to other victims
  • Obtaining a briefing from ASIC to clarify why it does not intend to intervene before the Federal Court on 8 July to prevent the lifting of travel restrictions currently imposed on alleged Trio fraudster Paul Gresham/Tony Maher

According to Cormann, ASIC recently told the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services that it does not plan to go to court to seek to block Maher’s application.

“In fact, it is understood that ASIC has not even lodged a brief of evidence yet with the Commonwealth DPP to allow it to lay charges – despite Maher facing a liquidator’s examination in December 2012 and the liquidator having lodged a report with ASIC recommending charges months ago.”

Gresham/Maher was a financial planner whose clients put more than $30 million into the ARP Growth Fund, a product offered by Trio Funds Management. 

“When the ARP Growth Fund collapsed, his clients lost every cent they had invested in it,” said Cormann.

According to evidence presented to the PJC, Maher received undisclosed payments of more than $2 million arising from investments he recommended and he gave fictitious valuations to his clients for many months.

“There is an opportunity for the new Treasurer, Chris Bowen whose responsibilities include financial services and superannuation to fix up the mess Bill Shorten left behind for him,” said Cormann.

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