Bronson and Satomi Hetet of the Gold Coast outside their unfinished Members Alliance investment property in Parkes, NSW. Source: News Corp Australia
THE bank that did most of the lending to clients of the controversial investment property group Members Alliance will let people walk away from unfinished homes.
And the building authority that has rejected insurance claims — even where it is suspected investors were defrauded — has been ordered to review its processes.
Following revelations by News Corp Australia, ANZ Bank is believed to have told borrowers it is willing to assume total responsibility for incomplete houses. The move comes after the bank was exposed for approving progress payment forms Members Alliance is suspected of having forged. This is despite in some cases the doctoring being obvious — dates weren’t changed when old forms were submitted for later stages of construction.
The bank is negotiating with at least 20 borrowers, offering resolutions ranging from letting them walk away to reversing all interest charged.
“We are currently working with each customer on a case-by-case basis with the starting position that customers who are the innocent victim of fraud won’t be left out of pocket,” a spokesman said yesterday.
Meanwhile, the housing minister for Queensland — where most Members Alliance construction occurred — said he wanted to speak to investors shut-out of the state’s home warranty insurance scheme “because of fraud”.
The minister, Mick de Brenni, said: “I will be asking the Commissioner of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission for more information about particular decisions regarding prepayment exclusions for the Home Warranty Scheme and to review the process for those cases where it is suspected that people have been subjected to fraud.”
Reporter John Rolfe and cartoonist Warren Brown explain the inner workings of a major group of investment property-spruiking businesses now under investigation by police and others.
Many investors’ claims have been rejected because the QBCC has ruled loan drawdowns where work wasn’t actually done to be prepayments which are not covered by insurance.
“The behaviour that has been suggested in these cases is reprehensible,” Mr de Brenni said.
His moves will put pressure on authorities in NSW — where most of the other Members Alliance properties are — to apply a more lenient approach to claims from dudded investors.
More have come forward since News Corp Australia revealed last month that police were investigating suspicions of fraud.
There are now multiple investors who say paperwork submitted in their name to another major bank was forged.
And there are fresh claims by investors who say they told their lender to release funds after receiving photos supposedly showing building had been done only for it to emerge the work had not been completed.
The original story by News Corp Australia said the Phoenix Taskforce was also investigating Members Alliance. The taskforce, which includes the Australian Taxation Office and Australian Securities and Investments Commission, probes cases where it is suspected a company deliberately liquidates to avoid paying creditors, taxes and employee entitlements.
Eighteen Members Alliance group companies owe the ATO $29 million, according to their liquidator.