Angst continues for Banksia investors
- 26 October, 2012 15:01
Thousands of investors are waiting to learn what will become of their hundreds of millions of dollars following the collapse of financial group Banksia Securities.
Receivers McGrathNicol took charge of Banksia Securities Limited on Thursday, with the non-bank lender owing $660 million to about 3000 investors, mainly in regional Victoria.
In the central Victorian town of Kyabram where the company was founded, retirees and even the local Baptist Church are among those worried about the state of their investments.
Kyabram Chamber of Commerce president Sheryl Hatch says while she's trying to stay positive, she and her family are among scores of investors who stand to lose "a lot of money".
Kyabram accountant Peter Nelson says he's hopeful he and other investors - from retirees to schools and sports clubs - may get a reasonable share of their cash back because Banksia's advances are secured by first-ranking property mortgages.
"Unless there's some real bodgies in (Banksia's accounts), we'd be hopeful something will come out in the wash," he told AAP.
McGrathNicol receiver Tony McGrath says he and three colleagues are urgently reviewing Banksia's finances, loan book and security properties.
"Our primary concern is to ensure the interests of debenture holders are being protected," he said in a statement.
The company, which also has an office in NSW and one in South Australia, had offered investors high interest on debentures and then lent these funds out as mortgages or commercial property loans.
Trust Company Limited, which is the secured creditor of Banksia Securities, is working with McGrathNicol, and spokesman David Grbin says the company's key focus is the fair and equal treatment of investors.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) says it's actively engaging with both the trustee and receiver.
In a statement, ASIC said it's not a prudential regulator, but a disclosure regime is in place for debentures, while a trustee must monitor and protect the interests of debenture holders.
Federal Communities Minister Tony Burke says it's unclear how long it could take to get to the bottom of Banksia's finances, given it doesn't hold a banking licence, and the funds in its debentures aren't backed by a deposit guarantee. "In regulation terms, (they're) swimming outside the flags, so it's going to take some time for (ASIC) to work with the company now to work out exactly what's happened," he told the Seven Network on Friday.
Spokespeople for McGrathNicol were tight-lipped on Friday, saying they could not give any updates as the receivers were bunkered down in their account reviews.
Banksia Securities is owned by parent company Banksia Financial Group, which also owns Banksia Mortgage Fund, a registered mortgage investment fund.
While the receivers' control is limited to the securities company, Banksia told investors in a statement that the group's other entities "will be considering the implications (of the receivership) for them".
More than 100 staff are employed at the 14 offices of Banksia Securities, which formed in Victoria in the late 1960s.