I got a reply on 31 Jan 2019 from AFCA which included these comments I have selected:
'AFCA has found it difficult to engage with Berndale in relation to disputes. It has, so far, failed to respond to AFCA’s requests for information in some complaints received by AFCA.'
'There is a chance that Berndale may not have sufficient financial resources to fully pay compensation that may be awarded by AFCA, and previously by FOS. We have communicated our concerns to ASIC.'
'AFCA is not a government department or agency, and we are not a regulator of the financial services industry and therefore cannot punish or impose fines. AFCA is also not a court of law. AFCA provides an independent and impartial dispute resolution service. Therefore, we cannot advocate on behalf of anyone who brings a complaint to us.
We recommend that you obtain independent legal advice about the options you may have about your claim against Berndale.'
In my case my account is $1700 probably too small to warrant engaging independent legal advice, and I even wonder how that would help me given that they are already going through the courts with ASIC.
AFCA say I should regularly check this page: https://www.afca.org.au/news/current-matters/important-information-for-consumers-about-berndale-capital-securities-pty-ltd/
I also have reported 3 other points to AFCA that are of concern for me. I do not know if AFCA has forwarded this information on to ASIC so I am about to do that in any case. Namely:
1. For a week approximately 2018.10.04 until 2018.10.10 my account was disabled. When my account came back I was given a new account number. I wonder if this was done in order to transfer my money from the segregated account into the account of Stavro D’Amore the owner of Berndale?
2. On 2018.12.21 Berndale closed my open trade without my knowledge prior to rendering my account disabled and becoming out of contact. Surely closing client's trades is not allowed without good reason.
3. I received a phone call from Ana Milos (Berndale representative/employee) on Nov 27 2018 asking me if I would like to:
'deposit $10,000 into my account with them as they had a bonus offer on at the moment'.
I would have thought that this was going against the orders of 18-390MR, which says ' ...its Australian Financial Services licence was cancelled on 22 November 2018. At the same time, Mr D’Amore was banned from providing financial services for a period of six years '.
Ana Milos called from 03 8609 9789 which is the Berndale main number which they no longer answer (just a voice recording system). (I did not deposit any more funds with them, by the way).