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06-100 ASIC urges the financial services industry to assist with Westpoint compensation claims

Monday 3 April 2006

Mr Jeffrey Lucy, Chairman of ASIC, has urged holders of Australian Financial Services licences to deal fairly with their clients who potentially face financial loss arising from their investment in Westpoint Mezzanine companies.

ASIC has also issued information requests to the holders of these Australian Financial Services licences (the AFS license holders) seeking specific information about Westpoint and requiring them to provide monthly reports about how they are dealing with client complaints and losses.

As well, ASIC has written to all known investors in Westpoint who may have lost money in Westpoint Mezzanine companies seeking their participation in completing a questionnaire about how they came to invest in Westpoint. The questionnaire appears on ASIC’s website (www.asic.gov.au) and can be completed on-line.

Communication with AFS Holders

In his letter to advisers, Mr Lucy noted that the fair handling of client complaints requires that they:

‘ASIC expects advisers to behave appropriately and within the requirements of their licence conditions, and to deal fairly with clients who have lost money in Westpoint’, Mr Lucy said.

ASIC has also issued notices to the AFS holders seeking monthly reports on the progress made by licence holders in relation to the complaints resolution process and its results. The purpose of information request will be to ensure the complaints handling and dispute resolutions processes work effectively for both advisers and clients.

ASIC will pay particular close attention to the way in which AFS license holders deal with client complaints to ensure clients are treated fairly. ASIC will take appropriate action if it finds that these procedures are not effective in safeguarding the interests of investors.

Mr Lucy has also written to the Chairs of industry groups that represent advisors, reminding them they have an important public role to play in helping their members resolve investor complaints fairly, and in particular, to support both the internal and external complaints dispute resolution processes.

A full summary of Mr Lucy’s letters will be included in the next Westpoint Information Bulletin which will be published before Easter.

Communication with Westpoint Investors

ASIC has written to each investor known to ASIC (based on the records of Westpoint) who may have lost money in Westpoint.

ASIC is seeking the cooperation of investors in completing an on-line questionnaire about their involvement in Westpoint promissory or mezzanine notes and details of their expected losses. ASIC is asking all investors to complete the questionnaire as soon as possible by 30 April 2006.

‘ASIC urges all investors to participate in the questionnaire’, Mr Lucy said. ‘The response of investors to the questionnaire will be invaluable for ASIC not only in our investigations but will also help us decide what action may be necessary to assist investors to recover their money.’

‘Information from investors will be crucial to this process and I ask investors to take the time to complete this questionnaire as soon as possible’, he said.

The questionnaire can be completed on-line through ASIC’s website and runs as a secure internet session to ensure confidentiality. The information will only be available to ASIC staff and will only be used for the purposes of ASIC’s functions and powers.

Investors who are not able to access the questionnaire online or whose first language is not English should contact ASIC’s Infoline on 1300 736 419.

End of release

Go to the questionnaire

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