Social Events— A huge Success!

Many members gather at a beach in Redcliffe and simultaneously at the Riverway Complex in Thuringowa Central to share friendship, experiences and simply just to have a little fun for a change.

More social gathering on the Sunshine Coast and also Mackay have been widely acclaimed as a great opportunity to give and share experiences with fellow ex-Storm victims.

Some members already knew others and had a great opportunity to catch up … other knew nobody and had an opportunity to meet other dis-affected investors.

The upshot was a very informal gathering of like minded people who shared each others companionship and stories without pressure or stress.

Many thanks to those who organized the events.

Watch the Social Events page for more events!  Those busy little social events organizers already have another one planned at Cotton Tree on the Sunshine Coast!

What’s New!

 

Bank Confidentiality Agreements & You!

 

We asked John Williams to ask the Speaker of the House if the confidentiality agreements the CBA is getting Storm victims to sign would prohibit them from either appearing before the Senate Enquiry Committee or providing a submission.

 

Senator Williams has advised us that:

 

“…  no agreement can override the right of a citizen to put a submission and or appear before the Parliamentary Inquiry.”

 

If any attempt is made to threaten or coerce potential witnesses then that would constitute contempt of Parliament.

 

We know that the banks know this.  They have tried unsuccessfully to gag people in the past!

 

Now the banks know that we know this. (Yes, they do look in on us on a regular basis!)  Hi Guys!

 

Now you know that the banks know that you know.

 

Knowledge is POWER … Use it!!!

 

If you have already signed a confidentiality agreement with the banks, please feel free to stir them up by letting them know what you now know!      Enjoy!

Some Interesting Reading ...

Hansard transcripts have ramifications for the degree to which ASIC can or will question Colonial Geared Investments.

 

Given ASIC’s recent behaviour regarding the early winding up of Storm Financial (when it has already had both voluntary administrators and liquidators appointed) has to make you wonder why? … and who is loading the bullets that ASIC is attempting so clumsily to fire?

 

The cynic in me suggests that the banks are putting pressure of ASIC to put the whole issue to bed as soon as possible.

 

The Full Hansard document can be found here.

 

Also, keep up-to-date with the parliamentary enquiry here.

SICAG meets with MP. Bernie Ripoll …

Members of the SICAG committee had a productive meeting with Mr.Bernie Ripoll MP.

 

Mr. Ripoll is the Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services.

 

Graham Anderson has filed this summary of the meeting.

 

Mr. Ripoll MP has traveled to Townsville on April 6, 2009 to address a meeting of Storm victims.

 

He gave us two hours, addressing the gathering, allowed some Q and A time, and then he chatted privately to a handful of badly affected victims.

Press Release:

Sen. John Williams

CBA WILLING TO TALK  WITH STORM FINANCIAL CLIENTS

 

People who are heavily in debt to the Commonwealth Bank following the collapse of Storm Financial are now being encouraged to sit down with the bank's representatives and discuss their situation.

 

Nationals Senator for New South Wales John Williams has met with senior executives of CBA's Hardship Team and is heartened by their attitude and concern they have for stricken investors.

 

"They made it clear to me they would welcome the chance to sit down and talk with people to work out the best repayment solution for all parties.

 

CBA has reiterated to me it has not started any moves to evict people from their homes and has no current plans to start such action.

 

The Hardship Team understand what many of their customers are going through with the loss of life savings and now heavily in debt, many of whom had retired or were on the verge of doing so.

 

Before signing any agreement with the CBA or any bank I recommend investors seek professional advice from their solicitor and/or accountant”, Senator Williams said.

 

CBA has told me it is prepared to provide financial assistance to customers seeking independent legal and financial advice about any proposal that is put to them by the bank and affected clients should discuss this with the bank.

 

The Storm Investors Consumer Action Group has supported Senator Williams recommendation for people to sit down with their bank.

 

"It is preferable to ending up in a courtroom, and I call on the other banks involved in the Storm Financial saga to follow the path of the Commonwealth Bank and enter negotiations with their customers", Senator Williams said.

 

Senator Williams is a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Corporations and Financial Services which is conducting an inquiry into financial products and banking issues.

The gagging of Storm

 

Members will be only too mindful of those events leading up the destruction of our Investment Portfolios representing a lifetime's effort, sacrifice and labour.

You will all recall that during the period of volatility in the Share market in the last 3 months of 2008, there was not one among us who was not vitally concerned about the welfare of their Investment. It is also fair to say that we might have reasonably expected a Margin Call in accordance with our understanding of the processes which controlled our investment. This 'safety net', although not without attaching some pain, would have at the very least, salvaged a portion of our investment enabling us to live and fight another day. Maybe we would have been a bit financially battered and bruised - not unlike many millions of others who had followed Equities based Investments, but certainly not on life support as we find ourselves now.

It is now a matter for the historical record that the Investment model did not function according to our expectation, for reasons we are all in the process of determining, causing us all to be in the Financial devastation, emotional distress and hardship we are all experiencing today. 

Another issue associated with the above events which I would suggest to members is the singular most issue that, from my and other members' of the Committee experience, compounded enormously the shock, despair, anger and bewilderment felt by us all during that critical time, is that surrounding the inability of Storm Clients to remain in touch with their Advisers or the failure of Advisers to maintain contact with their Client. It is our belief that it was the 'vacuum' so created that contributed significantly to SICAG being as remarkably successful as it was in engaging with Storm clients and harnessing the combined strength of you all to embark on our campaign for justice.

I do not need to remind you of the emotional turmoil that existed in that period leading up to Xmas after out portfolios had been sold down. It was a time when most of all we needed answers and the support of our Advisers. There was much conjecture as to why this was not available- in the first instance it was thought that our advisers were deliberately avoiding all contact although there was also strong  evidence (although unsubstantiated at the time) to suggest that Storm had been prohibited from engaging with their clients by ASIC. This confusion persisted until the occasion of the inaugural meeting of SICAG on 20 January. When, in attempting to substantiate if ASIC had in fact delivered this directive to Storm, it was denied by the ASIC representative at the Meeting.

Clearly this did nothing to dispel the matter or the emotion is was causing. It wasn't until early March that further enquiries led to an email being sent to a key person within ASIC, identified as being able to clarify the matter. Then on Wednesday 15 April I was contacted by that person who confirmed that ASIC had imposed a restriction on Storm prohibiting them from engaging with their clients. The reason for this prohibition was that ASIC had become aware that Storm were advising their clients NOT to pay their negative equity debt to Colonial  and it was their considered opinion that this could be of further detriment to their circumstances through having interest accrue on the debt. I am compelled to say at this point that this reason is spurious if not outrageous. What of all the Storm clients who were with Macquarie and all others who were not sold down in negative equity or had other products under management by Storm. At a time when contact with their Advisers was of paramount importance, they were victimised by default. Furthermore I have not heard of anyone who was advised not to pay their debt. They might have been told to get a complete reconciliation before paying it and in any event, most clients could not have paid it even if they had wanted to- and still can't!

This restriction was enforced for the period from about the middle of December through the Xmas period. Members will be aware that from Xmas Eve Storm Offices, as is the usual practice, operated on a limited staffing arrangement. It should be made clear  that  has it has been confirmed that contravention of this restriction would have resulted in severe sanctions being imposed by ASIC on any Adviser found in breach of this directive.

It was soon after this Xmas recess on 8 January that CBA foreclosed on Storm Financial causing them to go into voluntary administration. As a result, the administrators took control of Storm premises on 12 January and simultaneously the Financial Planning licenses of all Storm advisers were revoked by ASIC. This prevented them from engaging in any form of contact with clients, a breach of which would also have resulted in severe penalties.

A further key aspect of the above events was clarified on Monday 27 April. It was revealed, after some prevarication by ASIC, that they had reacted in 'gagging' Storm as a result of information brought to their attention by the CBA.

This description of events is intended to provide an objective account of events surrounding which a lot of SICAG members have been in a dilemma causing much anger and distress. I can't guarantee that the above has served to alleviate those feeling but at the very least, you now have the truth.

Mark Weir,

Co Chairman SICAG

Are ALL the Banks really trying? … evidence to date would indicate … NO!

Senator Williams was assured by the CBA that they would negotiate the best repayment solutions for all parties.

 

Don’t be fooled!

Consolidation of debt and capitalizing the interest on loans is only in the best interest of the bank, short, medium and long term.

 

It keeps you quite for 6 months while you still have to sell your property.

This is good for the bank.

 

It increases YOUR debt to a secured creditor (The Bank).

This is good for the bank.

 

If you cant afford the repayments now, how is that you can be expected to make larger repayments on a larger debt in 6 months time?  You become more desperate to sell your property … increases your hardship and your willingness to accept a quick exit.

This is good for the bank.

 

Don’t be pressured by a time limit to accept an offer from the bank unless it is really in your interest to do so.

 

Signing anything under duress can never be in your best interest!

 

Have you ever wondered why the bank would insists on a clause in their offer that eliminates your capacity to take advantage of subsequent legal action should any be forthcoming?

 

Have you wondered why they don’t want you to discuss your offer with others?

Westpac, St George, NAB and Bank of QLD have  offered hardship support.

After some fruitful discussions and letter writing, the above banks have offered hardship support for adversely affected SICAG Members.

 

Any members who have exposure to the above banks should follow the links below and make contact with the respective hardship teams:

 

Westpac                                                   St George                                    National Australia Bank

Bank of Queensland                                           Macquarie Bank

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