Friday the Thirteenth of May, 1983! This was the inauspicious day when Australia’s first and most respected trustee company dramatically collapsed.
The sudden demise of The Trustees Executors and Agency Company Limited (TEA) sent shock waves reverberating through the financial centres of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Trust clients, secured and unsecured creditors and dazed shareholders panicked as they unsuccessfully tried to ascertain their potential losses. Administrators were appointed to quantify the deficiencies then, more ominously, the liquidators took over. TEA was considered to be beyond reprieve.
The investors, as well as the nervous general public, had every right to demand an explanation for this unexpected financial collapse of an institution considered by many to be ‘safer than a bank’. What really happened? What was the board of ‘blue-blood’ directors doing to earn its high fees? Where were the auditors and other external watchdogs during this debacle? Who was ultimately responsible? There were many such questions asked – but it was clear that answers would not be soon forthcoming.
This book has been written by one of the officers of TEA and reveals some of the reasons for the collapse and the final, unsatisfactory outcome. It is also a story of the long struggle to clear his name and to obtain justice within a legal system that seems to cater only for those able to afford the most expensive professional advice. Finally, after a prolonged battle, the writer was exonerated. It was at an extremely high financial and personal cost, however.
Unanswered questions still remain in the minds of many associated with the TEA collapse.