Trio anger spills over as victims protest

Linda Atkins stands on the side of Bong Bong Road at Dapto with a walking cane in one hand and an angry placard in the other.

It has been almost three years since she learned that $150,000 of her husband Colin Atkins's superannuation savings had been lost in the collapse of financial firm Trio Capital.

Mr Atkins, a 55-year-old former BlueScope Steel worker, has a back injury and receives a payment from WorkCover. Mrs Atkins, 53, is on a disability pension.

The mortgage on their Albion Park home has risen about $40,000 since news of the collapse broke and they don't expect to be able to make next month's repayment.

Mrs Atkins thinks of the house. Her six children all lived there at some point - it is full of memories.

The Atkins were part of a protest by burnt Trio Capital investors outside the offices of Throsby MP Stephen Jones yesterday.

Mr Jones arrived as the last of the protesters were leaving. And Mrs Atkins grew angry as she spoke to him.

"I've got no faith in anybody any more, I don't know who to trust any more," she told Mr Jones.

"I thought I'd leave [the house] to my children. I feel like such a failure."

A Private Member's Bill - Mr Jones's - is in development for a compensation scheme of last resort for members of self-managed superannuation funds.

It would guard against future losses due to fraud but will do nothing for existing victims of the Trio Capital collapse, who say they feel frustrated and forgotten by the government.

Yesterday's protest was organised by Victims of Financial Fraud (VOFF), a lobby group representing Illawarra investors denied access to a $55 million compensation package after the collapse.

The group accuses Mr Jones of "insensitivity" to the victims and of failing to attend meetings about their troubles. But the Throsby MP denies these claims. So does Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird, who said Mr Jones had attended three meetings on the subject.

"I can only do things that are within my power," Mr Jones told the Mercury yesterday.

"I'm alive to the issue. I'm trying to work to ensure we don't have another [such incident].

"The reason these people lost their money is because they followed some very poor financial advice. What sort of financial advisor in their right mind would encourage someone to put their entire life savings into a single asset?"

Like most of those caught out by the collapse, the Atkins are knowledgeable about superannuation mechanisms today, but say they knew next to nothing about the industry when they invested with Trio.

Mr Atkins said he took the self-managed path after losing $100,000 several years earlier in industry super fund AustralianSuper.

VOFF claims many Trio Capital victims invested in late 2008 and 2009, after the Australian Prudential Authority and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission indicated concerns about Trio Capital.

Mangerton's Richard King, who had $480,000 invested when the company collapsed, said he would continue working for five to seven years longer than he had planned. He would also downgrade the quality of his retirement, as a result of his loss.

"If any of the politicians' super entitlements had been tampered with or stolen, you would see action," he said.

On behalf of nearly 300 investors, VOFF is compiling an "act of grace" compensation claim - a mechanism of last resort that is used by the finance minister when there is no other avenue of redress.

Colin and Linda Atkins and other Trio Capital victims vent their anger. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Colin and Linda Atkins and other Trio Capital victims vent their anger. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO


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