Trio was the trustee of four superannuation funds (the Astarra Superannuation Plan, the Astarra Personal Pension Plan, the My Retirement Plan and the Employers Federation of NSW Superannuation Plan (collectively referred to as the Funds) and one pooled superannuation trust.
Trio invested some assets of the funds into a managed investment scheme, Astarra Strategic Fund. Most of its assets were directed into what were called hedge funds, located in the Caribbean. There is little, if any, credible evidence that the purported investments were actually made, or if they were, that they have any realisable value. Most of the assets invested were subsequently lost. Other funds were invested in the ARP Growth Fund.
As a result, in December 2009 APRA appointed an acting trustee and ASIC suspended Trio’s licence as a fund manager.
What action has ASIC taken against those involved?
Since ASIC’s investigation started on 2 October 2009, more than 11 people have either been jailed, banned from providing financial services, disqualified from managing companies or have agreed to remove themselves from the financial services industry for a total of more than 50 years.
ASIC’s enforcement outcomes include:
Shawn Richard, former investment manager of the Astarra Strategic Fund (ASF), being sentenced to 3 years and 9 months jail with a minimum of 2 years and 6 months: ASIC Media Release 11-169MR, Former Astarra investment manager sentence to jail, 12 August 2011. ASF was one of the managed investment schemes operated by Trio. Mr Richard pleaded guilty to two offences involving dishonest conduct in carrying on a financial services business. Mr Richard also admitted to making a false statement about a financial product.
Tony Maher (formerly known as Paul Gresham), pleading guilty to 20 criminal charges including making false or misleading statements to obtain a financial advantage relating to one of the Trio funds, the ARP Growth Fund (ARP) (refer: 13-293MRFormer investment manager pleads guilty to making false statements).
The permanent banning of Eugene Liu, ASF's chief investment strategist, from providing financial services: ASIC Media Release 13-041MR Former Astarra investment manager permanently banned from financial services industry, 6 March 2013.
Enforceable undertakings (EU) with five former Trio directors where they agreed not to be involved in the financial services industry or manage a company for between two and 15 years. The former directors are Natasha Beck, Keith Finkelde, David O’Bryen, David Andrews and Rex Phillpott: ASIC Media Release 11-182MRRemaining Trio former directors excluded from financial services industry for four years, 24 August 2011; ASIC Media Release 11-133MR, Former directors of Trio Capital prevented from working in the financial services industry, 4 July 2011
An EU with planning firm Kilara Financial Solutions to address compliance issues: ASIC Advisory 11-122AD, Kilara Financial Solutions enforceable undertaking, 24 June 2011.
An EU with Tony Maher to never provide financial services or manage a company: ASIC Media Release 12-15MRFormer ARP Growth Fund operator prevented from participating in financial services, managing corporations, 1 February 2012.
Suspending the licence of financial planners Seagrims, with this licence then being cancelled at the company’s request on 19 September 2011: ASIC Advisory 11-134AD ASIC acts re Trio: Seagrims licence suspended and directors banned, 5 July 2011.
Banning Seagrims directors Peter Seagrim and Anne-Marie Seagrim for three years, with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal subsequently cutting the ban to 6 months ASIC Advisory 11-134AD ASIC acts re Trio: Seagrims licence suspended and directors banned, 5 July 2011, and
An EU with former ASF auditor Timothy Frazer, providing he would not act as a registered company auditor for three years: ASIC Media Release 12-22MRAstarra Strategic Fund auditor prevented from auditing companies for three years, 10 February 2012.
As part of finalising the Trio liquidation, liquidators from PPB Advisory intend to release reports for ASF and ARP, and other Trio investments. These reports will provide further information about what happened to investors’ funds.
Communications with investors
ASIC will continue to keep investors informed and post announcements on its dedicated Trio and Astarra website.
Further information will be posted on the liquidator’s website:
PPB Advisory: www.ppbadvisory.com