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Bank 'asleep at the wheel' as fraudster makes off with millions

Where's our Money Where's our Money

A group of retirees who lost millions of dollars at the hands of a fraudster have taken their fight for compensation to the front doors of the bank they accuse of being asleep at the wheel. The elderly Aussies, some aged in their eighties, were swindled out of their life savings by convicted conman Bradley Sherwin, who is now serving a minimum four-year jail sentence for fraud.

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Mr Sherwin's victims included Australian actor Peter Phelps.

The Bank of Queensland is being blamed after a group of retirees lost millions of dollars to a fraudster.

The dodgy financial planner shuffled the life savings of his clients around a maze of accounts in an old-fashioned Ponzi scheme which inevitably collapsed, along with his businesses, at a cost of $60 million.

Mr Sherwin had set up Bank of Queensland accounts via fund manager DDH Graham, in various client's names, they say, without their knowledge.

The self-funded retirees say they never even knew the accounts existed until everything unravelled for Mr Sherwin, years after they were opened.

Bradley Sherwin is serving time in jail for fraud.

"You are talking about three hundred-odd people now all with a bank account, some set up with fraudulent data, all with the statements going to some post office box. The bank must have realised something was strange," says Andrew Shine, who lost $800,000 of his life savings.

Nigel Jeffares, 71, lost $370,000 in Sherwin's fraud and says it's left him absolutely devastated, but he blames Bank of Queensland.

"Well it's gut wrenching, you feel sick, you are sick, you cry because it's what you've saved to do all your life," Mr Jeffares told A Current Affair reporter Dan Nolan.

Nigel Jeffares, 71, lost $370,000 in Sherwin's fraud.

"Yes I was caught by a fraudster, bad luck, but it wouldn't have happened if a bank had just been doing its job," he says.

The group took out a class action lawsuit against Bank of Queensland and DDH Graham and while the bank has admitted no liability it agreed to settle the case with a $6 million payout along with another $6 million from DDH Graham: a deal totalling $12 million and described by the judge as "possibly the worst settlement" he's seen in terms of payouts for victims, once legal fees are taken out.

And not all victims who signed up to the lawsuit are eligible for a share of the payout.

Australian actor Peter Phelps was one of the victims.

While the fraudulent transactions happened over a nine-year period, the statute of limitations restricts a claim to the past six years only.

By the time the facts were determined and a legal case formed, only two years of fraudulent transactions were eligible for inclusion which means of the 380 victims, the settlement will only be paid to 53 of them.

“The law has been upheld but there has been absolutely no justice,” said Mr Jeffares.

The victims took their protest to the doors of the bank.

Many of those who lost everything they own, took their anger to the front doors of the Bank of Queensland headquarters in Brisbane.

Armed with placards and chants, the group tried to deliver a letter demanding answers to the bank's CEO, Jon Sutton, but they were locked out of HQ and were forced to hand over the envelope to security.

The victims have started a petition.

In a statement, a Bank of Queensland spokesperson said they “understand the anger and frustration of the former clients of Mr Sherwin who lost money as a result of his fraudulent actions.”

“BOQ, while not responsible for those losses, sought to resolve the class action by agreeing to pay $6 million towards the $12 million settlement that the court deemed to be fair and reasonable,” the spokesperson said.

This article was first published by
Author: Tanya Weingarth • Producer
Last modified onTuesday, 17 July 2018 03:11

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