In September 2017 ASIC announced it had made stop orders on Product Disclosure Statements issued by Theta Asset Management Ltd for the Sterling Income Trust (SIT). ASIC made the stop orders because it was concerned about:

  • inadequate disclosure of risks and conflicts of interests
  • omission of material information about the investment
  • presentation of prospective information about target returns, and
  • outdated and incorrect references.

In June 2019 most of the companies in the Sterling group entered into liquidation.

AFCA has now received some complaints about the SIT against two financial firms that are AFCA members. Those financial firms have been involved in the operation, management and promotion of the SIT and some other Sterling Group investments. Currently, those financial firms are not in liquidation.

Making a complaint to AFCA

Consumers who believe they have received incorrect or misleading information about the SIT or other Sterling Group investments from a financial firm, or representative of a financial firm, that is a current AFCA member can lodge a complaint against the financial firm.

If you want to find out if a particular company is a current AFCA member, you can search on our website or call us on 1800 367 287.

AFCA is an independent dispute resolution service. Our services are free to consumers, and consumers do not need to be represented to lodge or pursue a complaint at AFCA. Consumers can contact AFCA for assistance with submitting a complaint.

AFCA can generally only consider your complaint if it is made to AFCA within the earlier of:

  • six years after you first became aware, or ‘should reasonably have become aware’, that you suffered the loss you want to complain about; or
  • if you have already complained directly to your financial firm through its internal dispute resolution (IDR) process, within two years of getting a response from your financial firm through that process.

However, AFCA can accept complaints about conduct of financial firms dating back to 1 January 2008 even if they would normally fall outside these time limits, but those complaints must be lodged with AFCA before 30 June 2020.

Latest update from the regulator

ASIC has identified AFCA as a key avenue of assistance for investors seeking compensation.

ASIC has explained the SIT is overseen by Theta Asset Management Ltd (Theta). ASIC says that in May 2019, Theta wrote to all investors in the SIT to set out the rights of investors in the SIT and how to make complaints to Theta. In that letter, Theta stated that its compliance manager would aim to resolve complaints within 45 days, but if investors were not satisfied with its response, they could lodge a complaint with AFCA.

In July this year, ASIC received over 100 letters regarding Sterling Group demanding $26 million in compensation to investors who suffered losses resulting from investments promoted by the Sterling group of companies. Read the latest update on the ASIC website.

ASIC says it is unable to directly make funds available for the compensation of investors who have suffered loss.

However, ASIC has prioritised this matter so that it can take appropriate court action against those responsible, where there has been a breach of the laws it administers (such as the Corporations Act). ASIC will keep investors updated on any significant developments in relation to this work via the ASIC website.

If you have been affected in this matter and wish to make a complaint

Please either make a complaint online or call us on 1800 931 678 if you require assistance,

Investors looking for assistance or information in this matter are also encouraged to visit the ASIC website.

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