Clients hear of fund manager's 'criminal' behaviour
A former investment manager has said his clients would have sacked him if they knew what he was doing with their savings, a Sydney court heard yesterday.
Tony Maher, whose behaviour was described in court as “appalling, disgraceful, [and] criminal,” sat through his first day of a two-day liquidators’ examination in the NSW Supreme Court on Monday.
The courtroom heard how Mr Maher, who has changed his name from Paul Gresham, came to be involved in what has been called the "largest superannuation fraud in Australian history”, the multimillion-dollar collapse of Trio Capital, in 2009.
He was the sole director of a company registered in the British Virgin Islands known as Professional Pensions ARP. One of the managed investment schemes run by Trio Capital, ARP Growth Fund, invested most of its money in Professional Pensions.
Mr Maher has been banned from working in Australia’s financial services industry after the corporate regulator found he failed to disclose conflicts of interest when recommending his clients invest in ARP Growth Fund, in the early 2000s.
Trio’s liquidators believe the ARP Growth Fund holds more than $50 million of investors’ savings but they have been unable to recover any of the money after Trio’s collapse.
On Monday the courtroom was packed with former clients of Mr Maher’s, many of whom had lost money because of his investments.
Robert Newlinds SC, acting for the liquidator, detailed the litany of lies Mr Maher had told them to convince them that the ARP Growth Fund was a good investment.
Mr Newlinds also detailed how Mr Maher had failed to tell them that he was receiving kickbacks to invest their money in the fund.
Mr Maher was asked if he could only justify his lies “with reference to [his] own greed and dishonesty,’’ to which Mr Maher could only answer, “under privilege, yes”.
Mr Maher was asked what he had done with the ‘‘kickbacks,’’ expected to worth multiples of millions of dollars.
He said he had spent them and had nothing left, “otherwise I wouldn’t be driving a cab,” he said. (Mr Maher now drives for a hire car company.)
Mr Newlinds SC wanted to know how a former business associate of Mr Maher’s, Matthew Littauer, who was also involved in the Trio fraud, had subsequently come to be murdered in Japan.
“He had a run-in with the Yakuza [the Japanese mafia] ... he was big-noting himself and ran into some trouble with some folks,” Mr Maher said.
Mr Newlinds SC wanted to know why Mr Maher had changed his name in recent years.
Mr Maher said he had done so to help him look for work overseas without being haunted by the “publicity’’ of ‘‘Paul Gresham”.
Mr Newlinds SC wanted to know if Mr Maher had "any assets of any substance” left at all. Mr Maher said he had not.
The examination continues on Tuesday.