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Public Trustee suspended

The ladder of law has
no top and no bottom
               - Bob Dylan
               'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll'

After six years of people exposing the office of the public trustee in Queensland for failure to look after its clients’ finances, the Attorney General Yvette D’Arth has finally suspended the Public Trustee, Peter Carne. However such extensive failure does not lie with one man, Peter Carne, it lies within the institution of the Public Trustee’s office itself; in the way it was set up; and how it operates to squander worker’s hard earned wages and their family homes.

Cover-up
Attorney general D’Ath is being very tight lipped about what possible ‘serious misconduct’ is being alleged against the ALP appointed Public Trustee, Peter Carne. Her office is hiding behind ‘due process‘. Does anyone have any knowledge of what the public trustee is accused of ? Did someone in crown law finally read one of the many affidavits submitted to the courts outlining the maladministration by the Public Trustee’s office? Somehow I doubt it.

All the Attorney will say is:

“There will be no further comment to ensure proper process is followed.”

The Attorney-General does not mention whether Peter Carne is suspended on full pay or not. This is the usual procedure in cases like these. Instead, why not spend that money pursuing the fraudsters?

On the Public Trustee’s website Mr Carne says the trustee is there during the times of grief and loss when Queensland families need it the most. But herein lies the problem, the public trustee rips off the families and invests the monies with Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC). This statutory corporation lost $billions during the global financial crisis, yet the government insists the monies held by the public trustee is invested with QIC which was set up under former Labor treasurer Keith De Lacy in 1991. Here are some salient figures from the Workers Audit of Qld financial affairs:

“The 2008-09 Budget reveals that the state government through the Queensland Investment Corporation invested $27 billion in financial markets to fund ‘future employee and other obligations’. The government expected a return of the 7% but due to the financial crisis instead received 2% – this produced a deficit of $995 million (p3). The financial crisis has continued to impact on the state government revenue. The 2009-10 Budget reveals that revenue dropped due to lower taxation revenue, decreased coal royalties, and lest GST revenue given from the Federal Government (p44). This continued in 2010-11, and 2011-12 with the natural disasters making the condition even worse.”

QIC now invests in assets privatised by former Labor Premier Anna Bligh. This includes investing in Abbot Point coal terminal, the forestry business and Queensland Rail’s freight, all privatised under Labor in 2009. Peter Carne was appointed by Labor to the board of QIC.

What about the right of the public to know how their funds have been misused? A full enquiry is needed and recommendations for real change required. Bernie Neville, one of the people who exposed the corruption has reported these crimes to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) only to be told that his complaint does not fall under their legislation. This despite the CCC’s website proclaiming that its job is:

  • To work with public sector agencies, including the Queensland Police Service (QPS), to fight misconduct, including corruption.
  • To investigate cases of potentially serious misconduct.
Bernie Neville on AHIMSA house roof at 26 Horton Street West End

How many lives has the public trustee’s office destroyed?

Ross Taylor is one, the public guardian working with the public trustee had Taylor abducted from his home by trickery and deception, took his freedom, and locked him up in a high security aged care facility run by the RSL. Ross has been an anti-war activist all his life. Both the Public Guardian and the Public Trustee refused to tell his friends where Ross was for four days. Here is a video of Bernie Neville and the author seeking his whereabouts at the office of the Public Trustee in Queen Street, Brisbane.

On 21 Oct 2013 friends of Ross went to ask the Public Trustee and his officers why he had allowed a community house (AHIMSA) to be sold. Whay had he refused to prosecute fraudsters, Brian Laver and Will Marcus, for theft and fraud from AHIMSA house. Together they took over $1M from Carl Ross Taylor, a retired meatworker, worse still they stole fromthe community a resource sadly needed.

Sign outside AHIMSA house in West End

To this day the Attorney-General has not acted to challenge this fraud.
Police have done nothing.
The Public Trustee did nothing, even though his sole remit was to to act for his client, Carl Ross Taylor.

Acting on the ‘sage advice of Queens Counsel‘ Peter Carne refused to prosecute the fraudsters, Laver, Marcus and Sabdia. He was supported by Mr Justice Glenn Martin who lauded the application by the Public Trustee’s barrister, D. B. Fraser QC for giving ‘meticulous and sage advice‘ on the fraudulent transaction transferring Taylor’s home at Sunnybank to his accountant’s family trust account.

Still no justice for Ross Taylor! Or for the Aboriginal Community that tried to buy AHIMSA house so that their youth could have a safe house. But was refused by Carne and his solicitor, Ian Campbell! On whose instructions? The land at 26 Horton Street has ended up in the hands of the Education Department for emergency extensions to West End Primary.

Peter Carne is suspended under s9 of the Public Trustee Act which states in part: “The public trustee must give written notice to the Minister of all direct or indirect financial interests that the public trustee has or acquires in a business or in an entity carrying on a business.

For those in crown law or government lawyers looking to attack critics of the office of the public trustee, nothing said or written here has not already been said by me and others in the Qld Civil Administration Tribunal and the Supreme Court of Qld.

Ian Curr
13 June 2019

***

Queensland’s public trustee Peter Carne has been suspended after serious allegations were made against him.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath says Mr Carne was suspended on Thursday, pending a show cause notice, after serious allegations that “could amount to misbehaviour under the Public Trustee Act“.

Ms D’Ath’s brief statement says Samay Zhouand has been appointed as acting Public Trustee effective immediately.

The public trustee deals with the estates of people who’ve died when no executor has been appointed.

On the website, Mr Carne says the trustee is there during the times of grief and loss when Queensland families need it the most.

© AAP 2019

7 responses to “Public Trustee suspended

  1. Royal Commission into the Public Trustee?

    Is Public Trustee ripe for a royal commission-style forensic review?

    Scathing feedback about a top Queensland government agency’s alleged financial mismanagement and poisonous office environment suggests an inquiry is needed.

    IS THE Public Trustee of Queensland ripe for a royal commission-style forensic review and a top-to-bottom fumigation?

    Based on the scathing feedback your diarist received about the agency’s alleged financial dramas and poisonous office environment, as detailed in our column at the weekend, it sure seems that way.

    Note to Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath: You might want to sit up and pay attention to the litany of horror stories. There’s a lot of anger and bitterness bubbling away out there.

    Staff, both current and formerly employed, as well as long-suffering clients provided us with detailed accounts of what sounds like a deeply messed-up organisation.

    “Your story on the Public Trustee is just the tip of the iceberg,’’ an ex-employee who spent more than a decade in multiple roles told us.

    “Toxic environment is not the word for it. That place needs to be deconstructed and started afresh. If you need to know more about staff bullying, recruitment nepotism, estate interference for friends, undercharging favours etc. let me know. I can give you all the nasty underlying stories of that place.’’

    Another current worker stressed that a broken corporate culture was the source of the bulk of the problems.

    “A crap culture results in the good, experienced staff leaving. There is no investment in the staff in any way,’’ he said.

    LUCKY TO BE GONE
    One former client said she felt “lucky to be out of their control’’ after the PT spent about 10 years managing a discretionary family trust.

    She claimed that that “the depth of incompetence and financial negligence’’ perpetrated by some employees at the PT was simply staggering.

    “It leaves me horrified to imagine how someone who is vulnerable, intellectually challenged or whose power of attorney is controlled by the PT could ever hope to track where their investments go,’’ she said.

    A similar story emerged from a gent who said he spent five years and $150,000 in legal fees fighting the PT over the treatment of his 93-year-old aunt, who is still alive.

    “They referred to her as an estate and did the most unimaginable things to her finances and her legacy,’’ he said.

    “My aunt had to pay the PT’s legal fees combating her family—me!—who was unhappy with the extremely poor treatment of her.’’

    BROKEN SYSTEM
    Yet another client, Sunshine Coast resident Sue Nunn, said she has asked Shadow Attorney-General David Janetzki to raise the case of her late father during a Parliamentary Estimates hearing with D’Ath on July 26.

    “On August 19, 2017, our dear Dad passed away after a long fight with multiple myeloma. Since then, we have been in a protracted and very expensive legal battle with the Public Trustee over his estate. We have tried our best to resolve this issue with them. We are getting nowhere.

    “The story I have to tell is distressing and unethical. These practices have gone on for years and it’s simply not right.

    “We are talking about policies and practices that are systemically broken in this organisation and it needs to be brought to light.’’

    CORRUPTION PROBE
    This outpouring of angst follows D’Ath’s suspension of PT chief Peter Carne last month for what she claimed was “serious allegations that could amount to misbehaviour’’.

    The state’s corruption watchdog subsequently revealed that it was “investigating allegations of corrupt conduct relating to the Public Trustee’’.
    Peter Carne was suspended as chief of the Public Trustee last month.
    Peter Carne was suspended as chief of the Public Trustee last month.

    A PT spin doctor said yesterday the agency “provides a broad range of services to diverse client groups’’ and acknowledged that “some of the people we serve may be dissatisfied with our decision or actions’’.

    Anthony Marx,
    The Courier-Mail
    July 9, 2019 5:28am

    Other Stories
    Whistleblower slams Public Trustee’s office

    Public Trustee forced to pay victim’s compo

    Public Trustee exodus after Carne’s shock suspension

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  2. Open Letter from Australian Association to Stop Guardianship and Administration Abuse

    To: Ms Yvette D’Ath,
    Attorney General & Minister for Justice

    Re: Public Trustee

    As a member of Australian Association to Stop Guardianship and Admin. Abuse and The Committee to Expose the Public Trustee, and with the recent events, including the request for the public trustee to “please explain” and multiple resignations from the office of the Public Trustee, I call on the government to hold a public enquiry into the department.

    Lack of integrity in one area would indicate a lack of integrity and professionalism in other areas also.

    David Honeyman, under contract to the office of the Public Advocate, has requested details of the fees charged by the trustee. The Public trustee should keep proper financial records, the same should be available to anyone investigatimg the office, not for the public to supply same. The highest level of financial responsibility and onus should be on any trustee, especially the public trustee.

    Your urgent attention to this matter would be appreciated and perhaps give the public at least some confidence in the actions of the trustee.

    Yours faithfully,
    Rosslyn Mirciov, B.Sc. B.K.,

    cc: Shadow Attorney General, Mr. David Janetzki, Parliament House, 2 George Street, Brisbane 4ZZZ,,,,by email David Honeyman, Office of thePublic Advocate, G.P.O. Box 149 Brisbane. 4001

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  3. The Office of the Public Trustee can only be described as a state government conceived criminal racket which deliberately embezzles the assets of vulnerable Queenslanders which have been put in its clutches by the utterly inept and constitutionally illegitimate QCAT kangaroo tribunal.

    https://aasgaa.org

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  4. Call for public inquiry into dealings of the Public Trustee and his office

    A source claims that Peter Carne was suspended for having an extra-marital affair at work.

    If true, it is a strange world where the Attorney General can allow the public trustee to mismanage $$millions of ordinary people’s assets but then ask him to show cause why he should not be dismissed for having sex with a workmate?!

    Meanwhile the Office of Public Advocate is conducting an audit of fees charged by the Public Trustee’s office.

    If true, I do not think that Peter Carne should be asked to show cause for ‘serious misconduct’ on the basis that he had sex with a workmate unless he gained some advantage from it in the workplace or in his job. Equally, if true, the person he had sex with should not have to leave his or her job or be forced to resign unless he or she gained an advantage or their in favouritism from the public trustee.

    No, as far as I am concerned, the public trustee and his office is guilty of a real crime misusing his position by spending monies to obtain ‘meticulous and sage’ advice from Mr DB Fraser QC that claimed Mr Taylor did not have just cause in recovering his home from Suliman Sabdia who de-frauded him by getting a vulnerable person to sign his home over to the Sabdia family trust. This was canvassed in the judgment of Mr Justice Glenn Martin in 2012 mentioned previously, a case where his honour curiously sealed the record from the public. In the court record is the opinion by Mr O’Regan of Counsel that says that same vulnerable old man had every possibility of recovering his family home from the accountant Suliman Sabdia.

    Firstly, it was this action by the public trustee and his office that assisted the Public Guardian in depriving that same man of his liberty when Centacare abducted that vulnerable person from his family home and placed him in a high secure facility hours from his friends.

    Seondly was the failure of the public trustee and his office for not accepting the bid by Mr Sam Watson on behalf of the aboriginal community to buy the property at 24 Horan Street West End for market value. If the public trustee had not placed the offer in the bottom drawer and allowed receivers for Challenger Bank to sell that same property for less than half its market value was an act of maladministration. It deprived Ross Taylor of return on his investment and ultimately, in a society that worships money, cost him comfort and his freedom.

    In refusing the offer both Mr Ian Campbell and Mr Peter Carne completed an act of depriving the aboriginal community a safe house for its young people directly opposite the West Primary School. What better place to set up an aboriginal community centre for the young than near an educational facility. What a racist act to deprive them of it!

    Now the state is building a new school on that property at 26 Horan Street. What did the state pay for it?

    We call on the Attorney General to launch a full public inquiry into this mismanagement by the public trustee and to discover if this case is typical of its administration. What other cases have resulted in the vulnerable and aged being defrauded as Mr Taylor was?

    The Public Trustee’s office should not be a self-funded independent statutory authority. It should not be compelled to invest the assets of the people in the Queensland Investment Corporation. A full audit of the public trustee’s investments in QIC needs to be undertaken. Why was the public trustee placed on the board of QIC?

    The Public Trustee’s office has escaped public scutiny for too long.

    Ian Curr
    1 July 2019

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  5. House of Cards

    Senior Public Servants are unlikely to be clamoring for jobs in the Public Trustees office … toxic work environment, being audited by the Dept. of Justice, allegations of serious misconduct, taking advantage of vulnerable people, investment in shonky financial products, excessive charging of management fees, to name some conditions of employment.

    Three senior staff at Queensland’s Public Trustee have resigned, retired or left in the wake of their chief executive’s suspension.

    Public Trustee Peter Carne was suspended on June 13, after “serious allegations” were made against him.
    Peter Carne, pictured in 2014 while speaking at former premier Wayne Goss’s memorial service.

    Peter Carne, pictured in 2014 while speaking at former premier Wayne Goss’s memorial service.Credit:Michelle Smith

    Mr Carne oversaw the trustee’s 600 staff, who manage finances of incapacitated people and estates of deceased people across Queensland.

    Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath would not say why Mr Carne had been removed, pending a show-cause notice “as a consequence of serious allegations which could amount to misbehaviour”.

    Public trustee suspended amid ‘serious allegations’

    When asked about the nature of the allegations, a spokeswoman for the Attorney-General said: “it is inappropriate to comment because it is a show cause and no decision has been made at this point”.

    The day after Ms D’Ath announced Mr Carne’s suspension, deputy public trustee Mark Crofton announced he would leave his role next month.

    Mr Crofton, who is also the official solicitor, remains on leave and will “finish his role on July 19”.

    A public trustee spokeswoman would not discuss the reasons for Mr Crofton’s departure but stressed they were “unaware of anyone else being investigated in relation to the suspension of Peter Carne”.

    Mr Crofton was acting Public Trustee of Queensland from 2014-16.

    Human resources senior director Erica Gallagher will also be leaving the Public Trustee in a matter of weeks, after tendering her resignation.

    “The senior director of human resource services has been instrumental in building our professional and capable workforce,” the spokeswoman said.

    “Her decision to accept a new executive role is unrelated to the suspension of Peter Carne.”

    Capability and performance director Rob Moran tendered his resignation in the weeks after Mr Carne’s suspension.

    The spokeswoman said Mr Moran “has been planning his retirement for some time now” and that his decision to leave was not related to Mr Carne’s suspension.

    She would not say if any other staff were leaving, citing privacy considerations.

    “Any retirements or movement to other roles are not related to the suspension of Peter Carne.”
    See https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/deputy-public-trustee-leaves-amid-ceo-s-misconduct-probe-20190626-p521kl.html

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  6. Veronika Fraser

    Our family was destroyed by 3 Trustee companies. Perpetual Trustees lost the value of 2 properties during the administration of our family Trust.Now they want to expedite the distribution of the estate before they restored the real value. Commenced repossession of the only asset remaining which is the family home so they can sell it and avoid restriction of the Trust.
    They bullied and intimidated us when we complained. Used undue influence, deceptive and dishonest conduct to destroy our family.

    We also had an unfortunate experience with the Equity Trustees who forced our 94 year old mother to sign a Power of Attorney Financial while being treated in the Freemasons hospital in Melbourne. Suffering from dementia she was financially abused by the agent of Equity

    Hopefully your readers will appreciate the extent Trustee companies go to in order to do business. Compassion is not in their vocabulary only Greed!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What wonderful news !! Here’s hoping this is “the start of the beginning” for exposure of the Public Trustee and its fraud, ineffeciency, lack of transparency and so and so on. Will it flow on to Public Guardian ?? Fingers crossed !

    Liked by 1 person

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