Public Trustee unit accused of ‘chewing up’ estate funds

It is interesting to read in the Sunday Mail article
(below) the same old defence being put up by 
Public Trustee client services executive director 
Tony Steinmetz for failing to carry out its fiduciary 
The same officer denied that the Brisbane Aboriginal 
organisation Link Up had made a bona fide offer at 
market value to buy community centre AHIMSA house in 
West End. 
This would have saved the community centre and 
good fortune of one of the Public Trustee's clients 
who now is locked up in an aged care facility in 
Alexandra Headlands, isolated from his friends and community.

More than that it would have provided a place for
Aboriginal youth to be part of the commuity, to learn
and to grow from their aunties and uncles.

Good job by Kalmeny Fraser and her crew in exposing
the Public Trustee of Queensland.

                             - Ian Curr Editor, WBT
                               2 November 2015

The whistleblower outside a house being auctioned by the Public Trustee in Brisbane. Pic: Jamie Hanson

STAFF at a unit that searches for heirs of the deceased were encouraged to “chew up” the estates by overcharging for research, an employee has claimed in an official complaint.

The Public Trustee unit, which denies the allegations, is raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by billing deceased estates for tracing beneficiaries in complex cases in which the deceased did not make a will.

The Intestacy Entitlement Unit has 220 investigations under way, including cold cases from the state’s $21 million trove of unclaimed deceased estates.

But documents obtained by The Sunday Mail reveal the unit’s five staff were given “no significant resources” to track people down, despite charging $228 an hour for research.

The unit’s genealogists were at one point barred from searching the electoral roll online, initially had social media sites blocked on their work computers and were forced to pay for subscriptions to genealogy sites from their own pocket after waiting years for work accounts to be set up.

Staff relied on private genealogy site subscriptions as late as 2013 and in mid-2012 were told they must stop searching the state electoral roll online.

One genealogist repeatedly emailed his superiors pushing for basic resources. His contract was not renewed at the end of last year.

The employee, who asked not to be named, made an ­official complaint about “systemic overcharging” of fees early last year.

An investigator was also looking into other workplace issues in the unit, separate to an investigation into alleged overcharging.

“What was happening was that the (unit) was going completely off the rails with the point (being) that we needed to chew up estates, push these things through,” he told the investigator. “(Number) one is to make a lot of money out of every estate that you have been given and, secondly, if there is not nearly enough money left, well, let’s chew it up anyway.”

The employee was still to be told of an outcome as of last week.

But Public Trustee client services executive director Tony Steinmetz (left) denied staff were overcharging, saying it had a “duty to make all efforts to locate beneficiaries”, including in small estates.

He said staff had “appropriate computers, software and access to the internet”.

“The Public Trustee only charges fees that are reasonable and second, the Public Trustee has a clear system to ensure that fees are not overcharged,” he said.

November 1, 2015 12:00am

6 thoughts on “Public Trustee unit accused of ‘chewing up’ estate funds

  1. Yes Minister says:

    As Sergeant Schultz was wont to exclaim ‘VERRRRRYYY interesting …. but not very funny’. Mind you there are indications this kind of financial chicanery is not exactly foreign to the Public Trustee, in fact some of us allege its endemic to the organization and its grubby cohorts the Adult Guardian and the kangaroo court. What I find particularly distasteful is the arrangement whereby Public Trustee lawyers have been made immune to censure by the Legal Services Commission, meaning there is effectively nothing their victims can do to have complaints addressed. Quite obviously the incestuous relationship the Public Trustee enjoys with the kangaroo court protects the entity against any interference from that quarter, and the ostensibly ‘independent’ victim and carer support organizations partly or fully funded by the Public Trustee won’t bite the hand that feeds them. Its interesting that the odd whistleblower is emerging from the shubbery, whilst it will take more than the odd dissident to overturn an utterly corrupt regime that has been established for yonks, it does appear that the tables are turning. Personally I don’t believe there will be a ‘proper’ inquiry until or unless the sheeple come to the conclusion that the judiciary (which is almost certainly at the centre of the Public Trustee rort) has no right to occupy the pedestal on which it has placed itself.

  2. Troglodyte says:

    Ahhhhhh ….. rats deserting a sinking ship perhaps 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. The Masked Avenger says:

    Surely this goose doesn’t actually believe his own male bovine dropping ??
    Before anyone mentions the lack of a long neck, I’m assured that one doesn’t need a long neck to be a goose. On the other hand, I stand to be corrected regarding his species. As someone has just suggested he could well be a galah.

    The finer points of overcharging and how to argue ones way out of accusations of same are the first things any law student learns, and the terms ‘Public Trustee’ and ‘reasonable fees’ don’t belong in the same sentence. I’d dearly love to know more about this ‘clear system to ensure fees are not overcharged’ because I would most definitely use it in the next 3 milli-seconds if not sooner if such a thing existed (yes Martha, that was a flock of pigs winging their way across the sky). I can only suggest that old mate borrowed the idea of ‘tell a lie often enough and the people will believe it’ from Adolf Hitler. Come to think of it, I’ve heard that same ‘reasonable fees’ garbology from other PT drones including Clinton Miles. Mind you I’ve been known to harbour the somewhat uncharitable thought that its not the only thing the Public Trustee borrowed; the attitude of the organization bears a striking resemblance to that of the Gestapo, with a bit of Stormtroopers and KGB added for good measure.

    Public Trustee client services executive director Tony Steinmetz … denied staff were overcharging

    “The Public Trustee only charges fees that are reasonable and second, the Public Trustee has a clear system to ensure that fees are not overcharged,” he said.

  4. The Committee to Expose the Public Trustee says:

    The Committee to Expose the Public Trustee is preparing a group submission to the Crime and Corruption Commission and this is expected to be lodged within a couple of weeks, depending on availability of relevant kangaroo court transcripts, medical reports etc.

    We have identified a number of recurring issues and each and every complainant providing affidavits as part of the joint submission will elaborate on their experiences with the recurring issues. Our intention is to demonstrate conclusive and definitive proof of serious and systemic problems involving not only members of the triune beast (kangaroo court, Adult Guardian and Public Trustee) but also cover-ups by the Premier, Deputy Premier, Attorney General, kangaroo court president and a whole raft of bureaucrazies (MIS-spelling intended).

    Previous attempts by individual complainants to get the CCC off its backside failed because the complaints from individuals were easily discounted as isolated aberrations and the work of a troublemaker, however its somewhat more difficult to discount corroborated reports from a dozen or more parties. Its highly likely that the well-connected high flyers who are on the take will attempt to block the CCC, so we intend to employ a number of other measures to bring the issues to the attention of the sheeple at the same time the CCC submission is filed. The Public Trustee is demonstrably a mutant dog that wags two tails, one being the Adult Guardian and the other being the kangaroo court. These entities collectively (the triune beast) are only the front for extremely influential and well-connected folk within the Queensland Investment Corporation and these are believed to be the real power brokers. A cursory check of ‘who’s who in the QIC zoo’ reveals all.

    What promises to make the circus infinitely more interesting in the near future is some equally influential contacts we’ve made …. very prominent people who have been instrumental in bringing other political and bureaucratic grubs to account in the past and who have been concerned for some time about the endemic corruption in kangaroo courts, Adult Guardians and Public Trustees. Whilst the immediate focus is the Queensland situation, its inevitable that equivalent problems in all states and territories will be exposed due to the flak that will be flying around. One can only keep the lid on a pressure-cooker for a limited time, eventually it must come off with a far bigger explosion that would otherwise eventuated had any semblance of natural justice been allowed to exist. If perchance anyone not already involved but interested in taking an active part in the best opportunity that has ever existed to whack the grubs… contact

  5. Manus and Nauru: Australia's Gaza? says:
      Dear Sir (letter to the editor of SMH),

      Australia’s politicians and captains of industry claim they flock to Israel because of its “innovation” but is the innovation they come away with related to Jeff Halper’s claim that Israel plays a pivotal role in the global suppression of human rights (War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification).

      Are Manus and Nauru local examples of Gaza?

      Gareth W R Smith
      Palestine Liberation Centre
      Byron Bay
      NSW 2481

  6. Rights of the child ... says:

    Two UN statements

    GENEVA (3 February 2016) – The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has reminded the Australian authorities that, under the terms of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia is a party, the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration when taking any decision concerning children.

    The Committee was reacting to the decision by the Australian High Court that the government’s policy of detaining asylum seekers offshore is legal, thereby clearing the way for more than 260 people currently in Australia, including dozens of children and infants, to be deported to an immigration processing centre in Nauru.

    “The Committee had already expressed its concern in 2012 when it reviewed Australia at ‘the inadequate understanding and application of the principle of the best interests of the child in asylum-seeking, refugee and/or immigration detention situations’,”* said Committee Chair Benyam Mezmur. “This decision by the High Court greatly concerns us as these children and their families face a great risk in being sent to a place that cannot be considered safe nor adequate.”

    Among those who could face deportation are reportedly 54 children, as well as 37 babies who were born in Australia.

    Article 3 (1) of the Convention states: “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”

    GENEVA (3 February 2016) – We are very concerned about the situation of the 267 people, including up to 80 children, at risk of being transferred from Australia to Nauru following the High Court’s decision delivered this morning in Canberra.

    Central to the decision was a retrospective amendment to the Migration Act which was passed by the Australian Parliament shortly after the case was initiated and which validated the offshore processing of asylum seekers. We are concerned that this amendment, as well as broader aspects of Australia’s policy on the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers arriving without prior authorisation, significantly contravenes the letter and spirit of international human rights law.

    Most of these people were reportedly brought to Australia from Nauru to receive medical treatment and are in a fragile physical and mental state. The group includes more than 12 women and at least one child who have allegedly suffered sexual assault or harassment while in Nauru. The group also includes 37 children born in Australia.

    We believe that transferring these 267 individuals to Nauru could further damage their physical and mental health, and would put Australia at risk of breaching its obligation not to return any person to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under the Convention against Torture. Moreover, sending these children to Nauru could contravene Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We remind Australia that children, regardless of their legal status, have the right to be treated as children first and foremost, and urge Australia to ensure that the principle of the best interests of the child takes precedence over migration management or administrative considerations.

    While we appreciate Australia’s efforts to upgrade medical facilities in Nauru, the country is still not equipped to respond to the needs of severely traumatized individuals, including children. In addition, there are inadequate systems for child protection, education or social welfare in place. Several independent inquiries, including the 2014 Philip Moss inquiry and the 2015 Senate inquiry, have found that Nauru is neither a safe nor an appropriate environment to send people in situations of vulnerability to, in particular children.

    We therefore urge the Australian Government to refrain from transferring all concerned individuals to Nauru.

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