Banksia collapse hits thousands

A Huntly kindergarten is one of thousands of central Victorian investors left devastated by the collapse of Banksia Securities.

Receivers McGrathNicol were appointed to Banksia Securities Limited late on Thursday, with the regionally-based company owing $660 million to about 3000 investors, most of which are in regional Victoria.

Investors will get some of their money back but will have to wait more than a month to find out how much.

Huntly Kindergarten treasurer Anna Treble said the committee had been trying for seven weeks to withdraw its money from the company, but had been “stalled at every turn”.

The kinder had a term deposit with Banksia and planned to use its savings to install solar panels.

“It was only a small one, $7000, but that’s a lot of fund-raising money,” Ms Treble said.

The committee had decided two months ago to consolidate the money with other savings into one bank account.

But Ms Treble said Banksia staff made this impossible.

“They did things like telling us we had to fill out a form again because they had lost it and telling us we had to get past-signatories to sign off on it,” she said.

“Now it’s too late.

“The sad thing is if it had of been in a bank it would have been guaranteed.”

Ms Treble said she was about to go to the Ombudsman with a complaint about Banksia’s service when the administration announcement was made.

“I’m just annoyed that they stalled us,” she said.

“How heartless can they be? We’re a kinder.

“A lot of parents will be hit from there, too, being farmers.”

Down the road, Golden Square resident Brendan, who asked for his surname to be withheld, was still reeling from the news his life savings were in jeopardy.

He had $140,000 invested with Banksia. Now he faces the prospect of finding another job, a hard task at 53.

“It’s a bit of a shock,” he said. “I’ve been with them for 15 years.

“I think everyone was under the impression it was guaranteed, it was all secure and nothing bad was going to happen.”

Brendan had planned to use the money to buy his own home.

“It means you have to work longer and that dream is gone,” he said. “You’ve lost that trust. You’ve put your life, your well-being on the line.

“I’m from the generation where you start at a young age putting away for a nest egg. You get told you need to save and then something like this happens.”

Another Bendigo resident said he feared for the $10,000 his family had invested with Banksia.

“It was put there as savings away from the other bank accounts so we could pay the bills. It was the emergency money. It took two years to get to that stage... it was all we had,” he said.

“It was actually going to help with the uni costs next year as well.

“All my kids had some money in there. Last week we put all the money my son has earned working this year in there to keep safe.

“I haven’t told the kids yet.

“I’ve got a few grand left on the home loan I can borrow and that’s the only cash I’ll have. There will be plenty of other people like that I reckon.

“It’s on the website that in the last month Banksia were audited and given an OK. How does that happen?”

A retired Echuca dairy farmer, who did not wish to be named, said he had a joint investment with his wife worth $60,000 and his son had invested $50,000.

The 76-year-old said he did not expect to see a dollar of it back.

“We’d hope to get the lot, but it’s ridiculous to think that,” he said.

– with The Age

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