Despite license suspension, Theta Asset Management remains AFCA member

Maria Nikolova

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

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has provided updated information to Sterling Group investors. The update concerns Theta Asset Management Ltd.

In September 2017, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) announced it had made stop orders on Product Disclosure Statements issued by Theta Asset Management Ltd (Theta) for the Sterling Income Trust (SIT). In June 2019 most of the companies in the Sterling group entered into liquidation. AFCA has received 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.

Theta, which is the Responsible Entity for the SIT, has entered into administration. On December 13, 2019, Christopher Darin and Mervyn Kitay of Worrells Solvency & Forensic Accounting were appointed as administrators of Theta.

In January 2020, ASIC advised that the Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) of Theta has been suspended until July 21, 2020 because it is under external administration.

Today, AFCA said that, despite the status of its license, Theta remains a current AFCA member.

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 file a complaint against the financial firm.

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

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

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

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