This Current Matter provides updates for people with complaints in relation to Libertas Financial Planning and Theta Asset Management.
- Theta Asset Management (now in liquidation) was the responsible entity of Sterling Income Trust (SIT).
- The Investment Manager of SIT was Sterling Corporate Services Pty Ltd (SCS), formerly known as Acquest Corporate Services Pty Ltd.
- SCS ceased as a corporate authorised representative of Theta and became a corporate authorised representative of Libertas Financial Planning Pty Ltd.
- Investors in SIT include some consumers who acquired a Sterling New Life Lease marketed by Sterling First Projects Pty Ltd.
The latest updates are about legislation being passed to establish a compensation scheme of last resort (CSLR), and about Libertas going into liquidation. You can also see information below on the status of Theta.
Update: Compensation Scheme of Last Resort (CSLR)
On 22 June 2023, the Federal Parliament passed legislation to establish a CSLR. The financial services CSLR is designed to protect eligible consumers who have an AFCA determination in their favour but the financial firm cannot pay.
Now that the CSLR is legislated, AFCA will review the status of complaints it had placed on pause, because they involved insolvent firms, pending the commencement of a CSLR. This includes "open" complaints that have not yet been considered and "closed" matters where there is an AFCA determination but no payment by the firm.
Complaints about Libertas and Theta are among the complaints where CSLR eligiblity will be reviewed.
AFCA will need to consider a range of questions for each complaint, including whether a complaint broadly falls within the scope of the CSLR, as outlined in the legislation, and whether a complaint is within AFCA’s jurisdiction, if this has not been determined already.
Not every complaint against a financial firm in liquidation will be eligible because the scope of the CSLR is limited to certain financial services and financial products. The scope of the CSLR is a matter of government policy, and a separate and independent company will manage the compensation scheme.
We will communicate with you as we progress our review of paused complaints.
You do not need to do anything in the meantime.
We thank you for your continued patience as we work through this with the care and rigour that's required.
You can find more information about the CSLR on its interim website.
Update: Libertas in liquidation
Libertas Financial Planning entered liquidation on 26 May 2023. This means an external party is now managing the company. We are assessing how this will impact AFCA’s complaint resolution process in regard to Libertas complaints.
In the meantime, complainants can lodge a proof of debt with the liquidator. This will not affect your complaint with AFCA.
To lodge a proof debt, and for any other enquiries about the liquidation, please contact:
Mr Christopher Palmer
(02) 9232 3322
The liquidator’s office may contact you directly as they will have access to the complaints lodged at AFCA against Libertas. Any communication regarding the liquidation of Libertas will come to you from the liquidator, not AFCA.
AFCA encourages you to seek your own independent legal or financial advice in relation to Libertas entering liquidation. If you would like a referral to a community legal organisation, please contact us directly and we can help you with a referral.
Theta Asset Management Ltd
Theta ceased to be a member of the AFCA external dispute resolution scheme on 9 March 2021. Therefore, AFCA can no longer register complaints against Theta.
Complaints lodged with AFCA before 9 March 2021 remain on pause while AFCA reviews the impact of the introduction of a CSLR (see above).
In May 2021, ASIC advised that the Federal Court in Western Australia had found Theta and its Managing Director, Robert Patrick Marie, contravened the Corporations Act on multiple occasions in authorising the issue of five defective Product Disclosure Statements for the Sterling Income Trust (SIT). More detail is available on ASIC’s website.
Lodging a complaint with AFCA
Consumers who believe they have received incorrect or misleading information about the Sterling Income Trust or other Sterling group investments from a financial firm, or representative of a financial firm, that is a current AFCA member can lodge a complaint against the financial firm.
If you want to find out if a particular company is a current AFCA member, you can search on our website or call us on 1800 367 287.
- The National Debt Helpline offers free, independent and confidential assistance for people in financial hardship. You can visit their website or call them on 1800 007 007.
If you are feeling distressed
- Visit Beyond Blue’s website or contact them on 1300 22 4636
- Lifeline is available via this website or on 13 11 14