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Trio Capital victims tell inquiry of ruin

VICTIMS of the country's largest superannuation fraud have accused politicians and financial regulators of failing to protect them from financial ruin.

VICTIMS of the country's largest superannuation fraud have accused politicians and financial regulators of failing to protect them from financial ruin.

Scammed investors delivered harrowing evidence yesterday at a federal parliamentary inquiry into the 2009 collapse of Trio Capital.

Investors living in the Illawarra region have been forced to sell their homes, extend their retirement age and take out huge loans after their superannuation vanished in the collapse.

Shayne and Tracey Bonnie, who lost at least $226,000, lashed out at the federal government for denying a bailout package to self-managed superannuation fund investors.

"It's now going to take us another 30 years to pay down our loans and we're still going to end up on the pension, all because we feel our government completely let us down instead of doing the right thing," Mr Bonnie told the hearing.

"We haven't lost our house yet but we live month to month and every couple of months we review our budget and see if we can continue or if we need to sell up.

"The car's been downsized, family holidays have been scrapped ... it's just so hard to explain to the kids why life has changed so much," he said.

The bipartisan inquiry spent two hours in Thirroul examining compensation and the role financial planners, government regulators and auditors played in the crisis.

The former Wollongong financial planner Ross Tarrant, who advised many clients to invest in Trio Capital, sat quietly as witnesses gave evidence. Mr Tarrant has denied any responsibility for his former clients' losses.

The inquiry was also told the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission did not do enough to prevent the collapse.

Pharmacist Ian Hogg had planned to retire this year but now has to work another five years to help recover some of the $298,000 he lost.

"We were let down by the regulatory agencies in a very big way [it's] just totally outrageous," he told the hearing.

"You would have thought that when I left university as a pharmacist I would have had a pretty bright future [but] my [twin] brother, who is a school teacher, retired two weeks ago and I've got another five years to go."

The inquiry chairman, Bernie Ripoll, stressed the committee did not have the power to extend the compensation package but said that could become a recommendation to government.

But the Labor MP could not guarantee every recommendation would be adopted when they are handed down in late November.

"Historically speaking there are hundreds of reports that never see the light of day, many of which I'd say are good quality reports with good recommendations," Mr Ripoll said.

"But I am confident the government takes very seriously what happened in the Trio collapse, takes very seriously this inquiry and will take very seriously any recommendations we make."

The Trio Capital investment manager, Shawn Richard, was sentenced last month to a minimum of two years and six months in jail for his role in the saga.

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