Call the AIOFP on 1800 111 203

A notice to past and current Great Southern Investors

The Association of Independently Owned Financial Professionals (AIOFP) is a National Association of 4,000 Advisers who are not aligned to Financial Institutions and act in the best interests of consumers at all times.

We have some very encouraging news for Great Southern investors who have not settled with the Bendigo Bank and are being pursued by them. There is also potentially good news for those who have settled with the Bank if we can get sufficient investors to lodge a complaint to the Hayne Royal Commission about the Bank’s recovery actions, and to recommend compensation for those investors.

The investors in the McPherson & Kelly class action (and the investors in the 15 other class actions) ended up with their hands tied when it came to challenging their loans. In the Deed of Settlement approved by Justice Croft on 11 December 2014: M+K agreed to accept $20 million from the Insurers of Great Southern Management to reimburse legal fees investors had paid to it; The Lead Plaintiffs (and all Group Members) acknowledged and admitted the validity and enforceability of their Loan Deeds with the Bendigo Bank; The Bendigo Bank agreed that interest be charged at the standard rate, not the penalty rate; and the Bendigo Bank agreed to pay its own legal costs.

This was a disappointing outcome for many investors.

The Bendigo Bank has chosen to aggressively pursue ‘battle weary’ investors who have been poorly treated over many years by all stakeholders for the principal plus full interest plus legal fees. A great number have had to settle and pay in full because of this, borrowing against their homes and selling assets. Some have become bankrupt.

We have already submitted a rather candid submission to the Hayne Royal Commission detailing how the Bendigo Bank’s legal and strategic tactics have been very aggressive and should be publicly exposed. Submissions to the Hayne Royal Commission are privileged documents meaning they cannot be used for defamation proceedings – consequently we cannot go into the detail with you at this point in time for legal reasons.

We are pleased to inform you that a Sydney based Lawyer has managed to do what many have failed to do – have success against the Bendigo Bank which tried to recover a Great Southern investor loan, by going behind the loan documentation and exposing a fatal flaw in the loan process.

Although the current Hayne Royal Commission is certainly uncovering plenty of general incriminating evidence that will take time to digest, this breakthrough has actually happened.

On March 28th Tony Cordato from Cordato Partners Lawyers who was already successful for an investor (who was not a class action member) in a lower court won a second time on appeal in the NSW Supreme Court because the Bendigo Bank failed to produce any evidence to prove that the money loaned actually went into the Great Southern Agricultural Project that the investor had borrowed the money for. This is a highly significant result.

It has long been suspected that investors money did not actually go into the selected Agricultural projects after many former Great Southern employees cast doubt over it actually happening. Mr Cordato’s actions and discovery of this flaw in the loan process is literally game changing for investors who are not class action members.

We are strongly suggesting that all Great Southern investors who have settled and who believe that the Bendigo Bank has engaged in misconduct write to the Hayne Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
The submissions are made online. The identity of the persons making submissions is kept confidential. The email address for submissions is FSRCSolicitor@royalcommission.gov.au

The submissions form includes questions asking you to:

  • describe the misconduct of the relevant financial services entity
  • when this conduct occurred
  • your views on what contributed to this misconduct, and
  • any steps you have taken to complain about the conduct and the outcome of your complaint.

These are examples of misconduct which might be relevant to your circumstances:

  1. Any bullying tactics from the Bendigo Bank.
  2. Any threats of Bankruptcy from the Bendigo Bank.
  3. Any threats of Bankruptcy or bullying by Lawyers appointed by the Bendigo Bank.
  4. Any disappointment you have with Class Action Lawyers McPherson & Kelly in signing away your rights to challenge the loan documents.
  5. Any other behaviour you found intimidating.

If you are a Great Southern Investor who has not settled, it may not be appropriate for you to make a submission dealing with the issues raised in the proceedings, but may be appropriate (with legal advice) to raise a misconduct issue.

We will keep you informed of progress if you lodge your email address with us on pjohnston@aiofp.net.au

Note: this post contains corrections requested by the Bendigo Bank by letter of 30 April 2018