'Please explain' call over Trio Capital super theft

AUSTRALIA'S top fraud-fighting agencies have been called to account for their failure to pursue those responsible for stealing $176 million in Australia's largest superannuation theft.

AUSTRALIA'S top fraud-fighting agencies have been called to account for their failure to pursue those responsible for stealing $176 million in Australia's largest superannuation theft.

A federal parliamentary committee said the masterminds appeared to be facing no further criminal investigation, leaving investors in Australia's $1.3 trillion superannuation pool "a ripe target".

The joint parliamentary inquiry found that the 2009 collapse of the Albury-based Trio Capital was the "largest superannuation fraud in Australian history", affecting more than 6000 investors.

They had placed money through Trio Capital into two hedge funds, Astarra Strategic and ARP Growth, which siphoned their money to obscure Caribbean tax havens to the apparent benefit of a Hong Kong resident, Jack Flader.

The committee found that Mr Flader had never been interviewed or pursued in a criminal investigation by Australian authorities. It also found the investment manager of the ARP Growth fund, Paul Gresham, appeared to face no further sanction other than a life ban from financial services, after being paid $2 million to put investors in the fund.

Shawn Richard, the investment manager of Astarra Strategic, described in the report as a "local foot soldier", was jailed for 2? years for his part in the scheme.

The report by the joint corporations and financial services committee found the actions of the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission had been "very minimal". "The committee questions why one of the largest financial frauds in Australian history has not been more thoroughly investigated by agencies such as the AFP and the ACC," the report stated.

It also questioned why the superannuation regulator had not detected the fraud in five annual reviews of Trio Capital between 2005 and 2009.

The committee recommended against a mandatory compensation scheme for self-managed super fund members, which represent about a third of total superannuation investments.

The federal government has awarded $55 million in compensation, but compensation was paid only to investors covered by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

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