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.
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.
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