Trio collapse: jailed boss says advisers not to blame

IN CASE the politicians examining the collapse of the Trio/Astarra funds did not fully appreciate his views on the funds management industry, jailed Trio boss Shawn Richard has issued a follow-up missive, absolving financial planners.

IN CASE the politicians examining the collapse of the Trio/Astarra funds did not fully appreciate his views on the funds management industry, jailed Trio boss Shawn Richard has issued a follow-up missive, absolving financial planners.

"Financial planners should not be blamed in relation to the collapse of Trio Capital," said Richard one of the Trio fraud masterminds in an explanatory note posted on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services website on Wednesday.

"Financial planners along with their clients all had a justified expectation that the Astarra Strategic Funds had gone through multiple layers of checks and balances."

Richard noted that in his experience, financial planners had relied on "reputable research houses" to conduct detailed due diligence on the Astarra Strategic Funds.

The committee will release next week its report, which details the biggest theft in Australian superannuation history.

Richard had already provided a written submission, answering questions posed by the committee. In it he said: "Like most fund managers . . . our goal was to establish relationships with the financial advisers who are the gatekeepers to investors."

Nearly all the investors were "100 per cent reliant" on the advice of their financial planner. It was investors' "fortune or misfortune" as to how the financial adviser structured that investment those in self-managed super funds are ineligible for the federal government's compensation scheme, which has already paid out more than $50 million.

Three financial planning advisers have been penalised by the corporate regulator over Trio. In December, ASIC banned Wollongong adviser Ross Tarrant for seven years for not complying with financial services law. Mr Tarrant is appealing against the ban, and during a brief hearing in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal it emerged that he would call Richard as a witness. Mr Tarrant received more than $840,000 in payments from Trio, and has rejected claims that payments influenced his investment advice. His company has been placed in liquidation, and clients have lost more than $23 million through investing in Trio.

ASIC has also banned the directors of a South Australian firm, Peter and Anne-Marie Seagrim, for three years. A southern NSW firm, Kilara Financial Solutions, has entered an enforceable undertaking with ASIC to remedy its compliance processes.

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