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No relief for Chambers claimants

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC's) decision to cancel the licence of Chambers Investment Planners has provided aggrieved former clients with little solace.

Yesterday, the corporate regulator announced it had cancelled the Perth-based boutique’s AFSL because it had “failed to obtain professional indemnity insurance and entered voluntary administration”.

A report to creditors from the appointed Grant Thornton administrators in July revealed that the firm has been without active professional indemnity insurance since at least April, in contravention of its licence conditions.

Responding to news of the licence cancellation, one former client and claimant against the firm told ifa he is not satisfied with the performance of the relevant regulators.

“ASIC and the ATO should both have at least been engaged sooner,” the client said. “ASIC was/has been advised by both creditors and other entities for some time [and] did nothing…toothless tiger comes to mind.”

Another claimant against the firm and former client said he was “pleased that Chambers [is] no longer in a position to affect more investors” and that, in that sense, ASIC’s licence cancellation is a “win”, but added that it does not materially improve his situation or ability to retrieve funds lost investing according to the recommendations of a Chambers Investment Planners (CIP) adviser.

A source close to the matter, also speaking to ifa on condition of anonymity, said the licence cancellation was “neither here nor there” as it will have no bearing on the liquidation process or claims filed against the firm by former clients.

Former CIP director George Takla previously told ifa he welcomed any “ASIC investigation”, while the Financial Ombudsman Service has castigated the firm for poor advice.

The liquidators are now assessing which options are in the best interests of creditors – including a number of former clients who are “unsecured creditors” – including a proposal for a deed of company arrangement (understood to be the option preferred by Mr Takla and his partners) and a possible winding up of the company.