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Veteran Diggers fall victim to national housing scheme spruiker

Veterans diggers deployed to Iraq victims in property investment scandal

Veteran Diggers that served in Iraq and Afghanistan have fallen victim to the lure of promised returns from National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) residential housing projects promoted by a spruiker working on commissions with the National Australia Bank and property developers.

As many as two hundred Aussie veterans lost up to $160,000 each on NRAS property developments in Darwin promoted by ex-Royal Australian Navy diver, Mr. Hugh Ochremienko from the Gold Coast.

In a statement to the Herald Sun, the ex-navy diver said, “a citywide decline in prices and general delay in receiving government subsidies were offset by tax benefits built into the deals.”

Some Middle East war veterans including Officers and Special Air Service (SAS) personnel are deep in debt and reached into their superannuation funds to enter the deals.

Image: Mr. Ochremienko property investment planner at centre of Diggers fury Photo: David Clark – Herald Sun

Although the actions of Mr. Ochremienko are not illegal, he used his trust as an ex-serviceman to win the fellow soldiers business. “He claimed to be able to make their pay slips work for them, that he knew the system well so he could help them create wealth,” federal MP Andrew Hastie stated to the Herald Sun reporter.

Townsville soldiers were also targeted by the property development salesmen. He took them out for meals near Lavarack Barracks promoting cheap properties that were being subsidised by the federal government mainly in the outer suburbs of Darwin.

As the property market softened and the demand from tenants dropped, properties were left vacant in Darwin. A similar scenario occurred in Townsville with its record vacancy rates. In this horrific case of ‘buyers beware’, the soldiers had to wait up to 2 years for the government tax incentives to go through.

The NRAS investors struggled to sell and clear their mortgages because the property prices in the market had dropped and the balance of equity or loan to value would not cover their debts.

Mr. Ochremienko denied any responsibility and questioned whether the veterans had lost any money at all. “But have they really? I’m say no.” he said. The development middleman has not been licensed to offer financial advice since 2008 and said he helps investors with financial planning and his advice is general in nature.

Veteran investors appeal to come forward

Mr. John Rolfe, the reporter from the Herald Sun who broke the story asked if anyone knows more or has been affected to come forward.

TREN has broken similar stories in Townsville about the impact of NRAS and property spruikers luring unsuspecting investors into property developments that have damaged their financial history and even caused some people to file for bankruptcy.

We encourage people to come forward with any information. Do you have a story? Submit story.

Further reading:

American Hollywood stars and heroism tells story of Townsville suburbs

Treasurer sparks free market concerns over Domain Central $6 million revamp

Turnbull federal budget could wipe out Townsville property owners

Bank fees in billions for home owners

Townsville sold out by PM Turnbull Smart City Deal

Guide to selling a luxury home

Guide to 22 knockout marketing tips to sell a home

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Aaron M, Editior
Aaron is the founder and editor of TREN eMagazine with 15 years experience in the real estate industry investing and helping investors seek value, leverage value and capitalise on value, developing professional and technical skills and capabilities that have enabled his success in business from startups, adoption, asset growth, management and community leadership projects. Aaron also loves travelling, sports, his partner Jodie and helping people discover their "why" and find their few "what's" in life that realise the "wows. The " www" in is one of his why, what and wow's that strive to add valuable content and analysis for readers to participate and win.

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