We have lost absolutely everything, this has ruined our lives, dealing with this bank St George and Westpac Insurance, has been a living hell, we hope justice will prevail somehow.
This is our Story of how Westpac Insurance Limited has ruined our lives.
In or around 2000, I was offered a 25-acre parcel of land to build a house or shed on by my parents. I was working 2 jobs at that time and thought it would be a good idea to have a place to call my own, I made an appointment and approached St George banks loan manager Sharon Dodd about a $20k loan to build a shed however I was told that St George would only be able to lend money on a dwelling/house not a shed , I left with that knowledge and started the process of looking for a kit home that I could construct myself, I approached the local council and was informed that the property couldn’t be subdivided at that particular time for a separate title , but could be possible in the future , however they looked into it and a 2nd dwelling could be built under dual occupancy rules, I found a suitable kit home with a company in Ballina called Ballina Building Supplies for a cost of $36k, I then returned to the St George loans manager and started the application for a home owner/occupier loan of $50k, I had to use my parents property title for the loan and my parents went guarantors on the loan, I was the sole borrower of the $50k home owner/ occupier loan , we had to submit plans to council before the loan was approved and also get legal advice to satisfy St George’s loan requirements. The building permit went through Council under my father’s name, the bank and Council were always made aware, that I was the owner and builder of the dwelling,
The loan was approved in 2001 and I started construction straight away, it took about 7 months to get my house to lock up stage which is when we received the first council inspection certificate, I was then able to apply for the $14k First Home Owners Grant. The grant was approved in my name Andrew Gunn, this was deposited into my personal account with St George, this money was a great help with fitting out my house as I needed to purchase internal walls, electrical, septic tanks, water tanks etc. during this time of construction between 2001 and 2006 I paid my own loan through St George , I paid my own insurance which was deducted out of my St George account every week for my house ,further to the agreement I paid for 30% council rates PLUS my own garbage costs ,septic inspection costs as well as my own electricity and phone bills.
In 2005/6, I was approached by my parents, they wanted to purchase a new car and go on a around the world trip on an cruise ship, it was going to cost all up about $40k and they didn’t quite have enough money to do this, so they approached St George for finance. St. George made it quite clear to them that I had a mortgage using their property title as collateral and the only way for them to get further funds was for me to finalise the remaining amount of debt before they could apply for finance. I was approached by my parents and offered a no interest loan on my remaining amount if they paid the remainder off, I accepted their offer and we made an agreement that I would pay $50 a week towards the interest on the reverse mortgage which was 50% of the total interest that needed to be paid each week and that the $50 I contributed would decrease my amount owed to my parents, we also agreed that I would continue to pay ALL of the insurance and a third of rates , bin collection, electricity and phone which was in my name from the beginning. Also, I was to carry out all work on the property which would be deducted off my loan to my parents as my father was unable to do what he used to be able to do
We all approached the bank with this offer and had to have the agreement drawn up as per St. George’s policy. I was told by the loan’s manager at that time that I needed to protect my equitable interest in the property and they needed copies of this to satisfy the requirements to be discharged under the St Georges discharge policies, we did this through my parent’s solicitor. The agreement stated, that I would receive to the value of, my house and 25 acres, upon sale of the property or when my parents were deceased, this amount would be paid first then the remainder of the reverse mortgage and the rest would be my parents or divided equally among myself and 3 sisters as inheritance. The bank was made FULLY aware of the agreement and received the appropriate paperwork showing this. I was made aware by St George at the time of signing the loan discharge paperwork, that because the dwelling was mine I would be named as a liability on the reverse mortgage from 2006 onwards , St George once satisfied with all the documentation set up a reverse mortgage of $76K which $39K paid out my initial mortgage and my parents received the remainder which they used to purchase a brand new Nissan Tiida and went on an around the world cruise as stated. St George NEVER advised at that time, or ever, that my house would become the land title holder’s property, it was quite the opposite hence why we had legal papers drawn up at that time.
From that point on things were fine I paid $50 a week towards my loan to my parents plus $10 a week to cover the insurance policy for the reverse mortgage and satisfied the agreement with all other duties , things remained this way until late 2013 ,at this time I had reduced my loan from $39k down to $3500 from 2006 /2014, during the days after Christmas my mother abused my 8 yr. old daughter and this is when I stated to my mother that I wanted to leave the property and wanted our agreement fulfilled so I could start over somewhere else . My mother told me because of the way I spoke to her I would receive nothing.
During 2014 my mother was becoming increasingly aggressive towards myself and especially Brenda which resulted in my mother attacking Brenda and destroying our gardens around our house , we called the police and they responded and took out an ADVO against my mother. After this episode we started to be concerned about our property and looked into our own house and contents insurance and contacted several insurers however we were told because there was already a policy in place by St George we couldn’t have 2 policies over the same house , we contacted St George on numerous occasions about this, this is when were told that my parents had refinanced again on the reverse mortgage to the amount of $136k in 2014/15, this was done without my knowledge or consent to use my dwelling as further equity on their reverse mortgage and that I also wasn’t named as a liability on the property anymore , I was horrified and the bank refused to talk to us further and used the privacy policies to hide behind, yet they disclosed to us the amount my parents had redrawn ? my parents used this money to start supreme court action for possession of the land and sent us multiple letters to be evicted out of the house that I had paid for, the bank over this period of time refused to talk to us about anything to do with my rights to my house and only stated that all fixtures on that land were the title holders and denied me any rights to the ownership of the house I had built with my own hands and lived in for 16 years even though they were fully aware of my equitable interest in the property, during the supreme court case all documentation out lining my loan and agreements were handed to the courts and we always knew we had a legitimate claim for promissory estoppel and we would be compensated fairly for my house and also that we would receive costs due to the nature of my parents original claims.
However, during the Supreme Court case my house was destroyed by fire and we knew exactly who and why they had done it. We had surveillance cameras everywhere and the hard drive survived the fire, the police took it into custody to have the data extracted, this event happened on the 5/7/2016, no one was arrested for the attack even though the Grafton police suspected my mother , they didn’t take any steps to properly investigate the fire. The following day after the fire, my mother put a claim into the insurance company, to claim the total loss valued at $380k, the bank asked if they needed emergency assistance of $5000, but they replied no. We contacted the bank about the fire and was denied anything at all, Brenda had to use her St George credit card after the fire and it maxed out to $10k. During the investigation, the NSW police and the insurers private investigator, both acknowledged that the fire was a result of arson and the insurance policy claim would not be paid until the NSW police investigation concluded, during this time our solicitor had subpoenaed all insurance paperwork from the bank and insurer and in this you can clearly see that the insurer was asking who was the legal owner of the dwelling at the time of loss, there are several pages in this where you can see we were trying to get answers from both St George and Westpac as to why they were ignoring us ,this occurred only weeks after the fire and even though the police and insurer were aware that it was arson and the ignition of the fire was from petrol they still allowed the property to be sold in march 2017 for $400k, which we and our solicitor and supreme court were totally unaware of. In late 2017, we received bad news from the NSW police stating that the hard drive was irretrievable and no data could be saved , only weeks later our solicitor had received an out of court settlement and wanted to know if someone had been arrested for the arson which we replied no , he was quite intrigued at the offer and questioned their solicitor why they were making it now, even though the investigation hadn’t concluded yet. My parent’s solicitor Mark Spagnolo, stated that my mother’s health was deteriorating and they wanted to stop the supreme court case for possession. Our solicitor advised us that this could possibly be the only time we would see any money, especially if the police couldn’t make an arrest, so the papers were drawn up and we settled out of court for an agreed amount to stop any further court action against my parents in the future, this took place late 2017.
Early 2018, NSW police handed our DVR evidence back to us which was devasting. We put the returned DVR and parts under our tv cabinet, where it remained for 4 months while we pondered on sending it to an American company, on the chance someone else could get our data and hold someone accountable for the fire, so we could claim our rightful insurance.
Our solicitor as well as ourselves, were under the impression, we could still claim the insurance, separately to the out of court settlement, as we had made it abundantly clear to our solicitor, that we would not wish to jeopardise the insurance claim if we settled. My parent’s solicitor, nor the insurer, informed us or our solicitor, that the policy on our house had been paid, nor did they advise us about the sale of the entire property, until after both events had been finalised. Due to length of time between the sale of the property, and when we obtained the evidence that my mother had actually been the arsonist, we are not able to sue the offender for our personal loss, because the bank allowed the house to be sold, the offender had already disposed of any equity that we could have rightfully sued for.
We found a company in America and sent the DVR to them, within days this company stated that they were 97.5% confident in retrieving all data but would cost us $7000 AUS, so we agreed and they went ahead, by Christmas of 2018 we received amazing news that they had recovered 100% of the data, we forwarded our last $7000 to them and we received it days later. As soon as we received the hard drive, we immediately viewed the footage of the day of the fire and as you can see, it clearly shows Anne Gunn setting my house on fire on the 5/7/2016,we contacted the police straight away and made arrangements for them to view the footage which they did several days later. The police arrested Anne Gunn for arson and searched their house.
"During our contact with St George bank and Westpac insurance we also started action with AFCA , which in turn lead St George bank resolution case manager Alex Puta who was assigned to our case, make us an out of court settlement to the value of only $22500 which is no where near the $380k that the house was insured for. Alex Puta made it quite clear if we accepted the offer we would not be able to hold them liable for any further or future claims of liability against StGeorge, AFCA was made aware of the this and we even contemplated taking the offer of $22500, only out of sheer desperation for financial help,we even asked St George bank case manager to have the paperwork drawn up so we could have our solicitors look at there settlement offer , HOWEVER , St George's solicitors REFUSED to have the paperwork drawn up even though they were making an offer of settlement. AFCA were made fully aware of the tactics this bank was using and advised that the only way AFCA could see this being resolved was through Supreme Court action. We are financially destitute and psychologically exhausted from what we have suffered and this bank and associated insurance company Westpac have made it quite clear in their written outcome of their investigation by Westpac's insurance resolution case manger Conor Kavanaugh that they would be more than happy to look at our claim if we start court action and even stated that they had made a mistake with the insurance claim payout and stated that after seeing our paperwork can now clearly see that we had a financial interest in the property, even knowing that this bank is aware that our claim is legitimate they still refuse to help amend the grave mistake they made by paying the arsonist our claim to insurance. "
Anne Gunn claims the CCTV video has been tampered with. (A Current Affair)
CCTV vision showed somebody setting fire to the place. (A Current Affair)
Anne Gunn, 78, has been charged with break and enter and arson. (A Current Affair)
We commenced contact with St George and Westpac about the insurance and were notified after lengthy emails back and forth that that policy had actually been paid out, even the investigating officer DECT SNR CON Dale Keam stated that he and the private investigator couldn’t believe that Westpac paid the insurance policy knowing full well that it was arson. Connor Kavanagh from Westpac had made it fully aware to us, that the insurance claim was paid out based on the out of court settlement in late 2017. We were not informed nor our solicitor at the time, it wasn’t till then did we realise that this was the reason behind the settlement in 2017, somehow my parent’s solicitor Mark Spagnolo, had done a deal with Westpac insurance company forcing them to pay out the claim using the out of court settlement as an excuse, this was quite disturbing news and we questioned why it hadn’t been paid out previously within the 18 months after the fire and why now, and not only that they paid the arsonist our rightful claim of insurance? Connor Kavanagh refused to discuss anything further, citing privacy regulations even though he had already disclosed personal information, as had the bank. Connor had sent, at our request in writing, the determination of his company paying out the claim and the reason for it, admitting they had made a mistake, but are forcing us to take this to court to fight for our rightful claim of insurance and stated they would be happy to look at any future settlement through the courts and knowing it would be held up for many years and at great cost to us. We plan on taking the out of court settlement back to the courts, as we were forced to sign it at the time, due to the circumstances and also the breaches of the settlement. Court action cannot proceed until Anne Gunn has been convicted by the courts, this goes before the Local Court in February 2020.
So in summary, we have gone from having a legitimate home loan from St George and receiving the First home owners grant, complying with all policies set out by St George, living in that house for over 15 years with the knowledge that St George were always fully aware of the rightful ownership of that dwelling , then being dragged into court wasting over $80k to prove that we were in fact the rightful owner of that dwelling, to have it destroyed by the title holder, then being denied any compensation of insurance, then to find out that St George and Westpac colluded with the arsonist’s solicitor to have the insurance claim paid to the actual arsonist who lit the fire, leaving us destitute, broke and homeless, affecting our physical and mental health substantially, then having to find further financial assistance leaving us even further in debt.
This grubby corporation have been able to profit multiple times, by using one dwelling’s ownership, to be utilised by two different people, gaining interest on the first loan and then allowing a non-owner, to use it as their equity, just because the dwelling is on land owned by the title holder and not the dwelling owner. The dwelling was not a fixture on the land, it was built on piers, not a slab, therefore it could be removed if need be.This article was compiled by Brenda Mahoney & Andrew GunnPublished by The Bank Victims Team http://bankvictims.com.au/