ASIC provides update on Sterling Group investigation

Maria Nikolova

The Australian regulator says it has an ongoing investigation into matters including the promotion of investments in the Sterling Income Trust.

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has earlier today published an update regarding its investigation into Sterling Group.

Let’s note that the Sterling Income Trust (SIT) has sparked regulatory concerns for several years. In September 2017, ASIC issued a stop order on Product Disclosure Statements issued by Theta Asset Management Ltd (Theta). The stop order was due to concerns about Product Disclosure Statements for Sterling Income Trust (SIT), including 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of material information about the investment, presentation of prospective information about target returns, and outdated and incorrect references.

Upon becoming aware in December 2018 that some further funds were being received by the Sterling Group from Sterling New Life Lease tenants/ investors for investments in Redeemable Preference Shares, ASIC took immediate steps to require this to stop. Following enquiries by ASIC in April 2019, the Board of Directors of the Holding company of the Sterling Group appointed Martin Jones and Wayne Rushton of Ferrier Hodgson as Voluntary Administrators on May 3, 2019.

In today’s update, the regulator explains that it has an ongoing investigation into matters including the promotion of investments in the Sterling Income Trust and other investments offered by the Sterling Group, including to Sterling New Life Lease tenants/ investors.

ASIC is aware that there are approximately 100 Sterling New Life Lease tenants/ investors, who are in a vulnerable position in respect of their tenancies. The secured creditor of the Sterling Group, Macquarie Bank has made available Macquarie’s Client Care Team to speak to the Sterling New Life Lease tenants/investors about their particular individual circumstances, to try to offer assistance where it can. Those tenants/investors are able to access that assistance via the Voluntary Administrators on [email protected] or 08 9214 1473. Macquarie Bank had no involvement in promoting Sterling New Life Leases.

ASIC notes it will continue to approach investors to seek information in the course of its investigation. However, as the investigation is ongoing, ASIC will not be making any further comment in relation to its investigation at this time.

Sterling Group investors seeking up to date information regarding their rights should contact the Voluntary Administrators, Ferrier Hodgson on [email protected] or 08 9214 1473.

Investors in the registered managed investment scheme, the Sterling Income Trust (SIT), are referred to a letter they should have received dated May 9, 2019 from the Responsible Entity for that scheme, Theta Asset Management, informing them of their rights and of the procedure to make complaints to Theta.

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