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Trio victim defends advisers

***Updated***Blame for the collapse of Trio Capital should lie with the regulatory authorities, not retail financial advisers, according to a spokesperson for aggrieved former investors.

Speaking to ifa yesterday, John Telford, secretary of the Illawarra-based ‘Victims of Financial Fraud’ organisation, said the financial advisers that recommended investment in Trio and Astarra to clients have been unfairly targeted – with former adviser Ross Tarrant of Tarrants Financial Services in Wollongong particularly singled out.

“I think there is something like 98 financial planners from the industry funds [that recommended Trio] and then there’s about half a dozen out in the retail so out of all of those, just somehow, Ross Tarrant has become the scapegoat and the focus became upon him.” Mr Telford said.

Mr Telford said the advisers recommending Trio products were doing so in accordance with a “green light” from relevant regulators.

“They made certain recommendations under the conditions at the time that it was ticked off by ASIC, it was ticked off by APRA, it had even a couple of banks that were trustees,” he said. “It had the green light by the gate keepers; it was [found to be] creditable by the auditors and so on.”

Mr Telford’s comments follow similar views presented by fellow ‘Victims of Financial Fraud’ member Kay Gal, who lodged a submission with the Senate inquiry into the performance of ASIC, made public yesterday.

Ms Gal also pointed the finger squarely at the corporate regulator. “[We] are suffering from the ineptitude of the so called ‘gate keepers’ of the Australian financial investors who have obviously failed in their duties to protect us,” Ms Gal wrote in her submission.

“As a victim of the Trio Capital fraud we were under the impression that ASIC were the financial regulators and were [supposed] to create confidence in the market place.

“Giving a license to an alleged fraudster to handle Australian superannuation money betrayed our confidence.”

In April 2011 the government announced it would pay $55 million in compensation to victims of the Trio Collapse under a scheme available only to APRA-regulated funds. As an SMSF trustee, compensation was unavailable to Ms Gal.

Mr Telford said his organisation will continue lobbying the government for compensation.

Correction: This article previously expressed that Ms Gal "voiced her displeasure with Mr Tarrant, her former financial adviser". A spokesperson for Tarrants Financial Services, who is in contact with Ms Gal, subsequently told ifa the aforementioned "alleged fraudster" is not a reference to Mr Tarrant but to other parties involved.