ASIC announces Trio investigation outcomes

by AB30 Oct 2013

ASIC has provided an update on its investigation into the collapse of Trio Capital, following Tony Maher (formerly known as Paul Gresham), guilty plea yesterday 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).

Since ASIC’s investigation started on October 2, 2009, at least 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 enforcement action in relation to the Trio matter demonstrates that ASIC will hold gatekeepers to account where their conduct falls below the required standard,” says ASIC commissioner, John Price.

“Directors, company officers, auditors, investment advisers, and financial planners play a key role in ensuring that Australia’s markets are fair and efficient. ASIC will continue to take enforcement action against gatekeepers where they fail to perform their duties with sufficient honesty, diligence, competence and independence.”

ASIC’s enforcement outcomes include:

  • Shawn Richard, former investment manager of the Astarra Strategic Fund (ASF), being sentenced to three years and nine months jail with a minimum of two years and six months. ASF was one of the managed investment schemes operated by Trio. Richard pleaded guilty to two offences involving dishonest conduct in carrying on a financial services business. He also admitted to making a false statement about a financial product.
  • The permanent banning of Eugene Liu, ASF's chief investment strategist, from providing financial services.
  • 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.
  • An EU with planning firm Kilara Financial Solutions to address compliance issues.
  • An EU with Tony Maher to never provide financial services or manage a company.
  • Suspending the licence of financial planners Seagrims, with this licence then being cancelled at the company’s request on September 19, 2011.
  • Banning Seagrims directors Peter Seagrim and Anne-Marie Seagrim for three years, with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal subsequently cutting the ban to six months and
  • An EU with former ASF auditor Timothy Frazer, providing he would not act as a registered company auditor for three years.

As noted above, Maher has pleaded guilty today in the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney to 20 criminal charges including publishing false or misleading statements to obtain a financial advantage relating to one of the Trio managed investment schemes, ARP.

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.

In response to a Parliamentary Joint Committee report, ASIC and the Australian Crime Commission, set up a joint-agency initiative including the AFP, the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority and the Australian Taxation Office, to identify and combat serious organised investment fraud.

ASIC says it also continues to work with international regulatory agencies to more broadly identify persons of interest and risks to Australia’s financial markets.