Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass has begun investigating whether State Trustees is acting in the best interests of its vulnerable clients, she announced on Tuesday.
Glass said the investigation would examine State Trustees’ role as an administrator for people who are unable to manage their financial and legal affairs due to disability, illness or injury.
She said the investigation was prompted by a sustained increase in complaints to her office about State Trustees, a state government-owned company.
“While we have been helping to resolve individual complaints about State Trustees, I have identified possible systemic issues that warrant a deeper examination,” Glass said.
State Trustees say they haven’t seen an increase in complaints, however.
“We manage the financial affairs of around 11,000 Victorians with numerous interactions with our clients every day,” said acting CEO Agata Jarbin.
“For the last 5 years, the contacts made by our clients or related persons to the Ombudsman have been consistent, with the exception of FY16, when the number of contacts dropped.
“Only some of these contacts resulted in an inquiry by the Ombudsman to us.
“We are working together with the Ombudsman to provide them with all the necessary information required during this period.
“We remain committed to working in our clients’ best interests and have recently significantly reduced State Trustees’ fees on a range of our core financial and estate services. We will continue to support our clients with quality services.”
Meanwhile, a separate investigation into State Trustees CEO Craig Dent, by the organisation’s board, is continuing.
Dent was suspended in February on full pay over claims the organisation’s money was spent on a personal website, the publication and promotion of Dent’s book and Harvard university fees. Dent denies any wrongdoing.