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Storm Financial by Paul Barry

In: Business and Management

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The Saturday Paper
The Monthly
The Quarterly Essay
ECONOMICS
In the Eye of the Storm
The Collapse of Storm Financial
Paul Barry
By mid March, America’s champion fraudster Bernie Madoff will have served two years of a 150-year prison sentence for stealing billions of dollars from his rich and famous investors. As he chalks up the anniversary on his North Carolina jail wall, our corporate cop, the Australian Securities and
Investments Commission (ASIC), will have barely begun its action against Australia’s champion wealth destroyer Storm Financial Ltd, whose reckless advice cost 3000–4000 investors in
Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria around $3 billion.
Yet these financial collapses happened at almost exactly the same time: Bernie Madoff was led away in handcuffs in December 2008, just as Storm’s banks pulled the plug on the big Townsville-based financial planner and its unfortunate clients. There are, of course, huge differences between the two cases, not least that Bernie Madoff pleaded guilty and Storm’s founder, Emmanuel Cassimatis, didn’t steal investors’ money. But there are also strong similarities; these two super salesmen helped wreck the lives of thousands of elderly investors.
Cassimatis’ ex-partner, Ron Jelich, who sold his financial planning business on the Gold Coast to
Storm and became a key player in the group, told a parliamentary inquiry in 2009 that the collapse had inflicted “total horror, emotional despair and psychological terror” on “thousands of loyal, innocent, trusting, decent Storm clients”, whose lives had “been shattered, in many instances, beyond repair”. Yet more than two years later, Emmanuel and Julie Cassimatis, the two principals of
Storm, have not been punished, no adviser has lost his financial services licence – as far as we know
– and the banks who put up the money for investors to gamble with have…...

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