Public Trustee unit accused of ‘chewing up’ estate funds

from the Courier Mail November 1 2015

STAFF at a unit that searches for heirs of the deceased were encouraged to “chew up” the estates by overcharging for research, an employee has claimed in an official complaint.

The Public Trustee unit, which denies the allegations, is raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by billing deceased estates for tracing beneficiaries in complex cases in which the deceased did not make a will.

The Intestacy Entitlement Unit has 220 investigations under way, including cold cases from the state’s $21 million trove of unclaimed deceased estates.

But documents obtained by The Sunday Mail reveal the unit’s five staff were given “no significant resources” to track people down, despite charging $228 an hour for research.

The unit’s genealogists were at one point barred from searching the electoral roll online, initially had social media sites blocked on their work computers and were forced to pay for subscriptions to genealogy sites from their own pocket after waiting years for work accounts to be set up.

Staff relied on private genealogy site subscriptions as late as 2013 and in mid-2012 were told they must stop searching the state electoral roll online.

One genealogist repeatedly emailed his superiors pushing for basic resources. His contract was not renewed at the end of last year.

The employee, who asked not to be named, made an ­official complaint about “systemic overcharging” of fees early last year.

An investigator was also looking into other workplace issues in the unit, separate to an investigation into alleged overcharging.

“What was happening was that the (unit) was going completely off the rails with the point (being) that we needed to chew up estates, push these things through,” he told the investigator. “(Number) one is to make a lot of money out of every estate that you have been given and, secondly, if there is not nearly enough money left, well, let’s chew it up anyway.”

The employee was still to be told of an outcome as of last week.

But Public Trustee client services executive director Tony Steinmetz (left) denied staff were overcharging, saying it had a “duty to make all efforts to locate beneficiaries”, including in small estates.

He said staff had “appropriate computers, software and access to the internet”.

“The Public Trustee only charges fees that are reasonable and second, the Public Trustee has a clear system to ensure that fees are not overcharged,” he said.

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3 thoughts on “Public Trustee unit accused of ‘chewing up’ estate funds

  1. Thanks …. I have seen that report previously but had almost forgotten it, will certainly use in the CCC submission

    No doubt ‘senior’ staff did the sham searches

    The term ‘reasonable’ in PT context clearly has a different meaning to that in any known dictionary

    On 30/01/2016 16:47, the committee to expose the public trustee of Queensland wrote: > WordPress.com > John T. posted: “from the Courier Mail November 1 2015 STAFF at a unit > that searches for heirs of the deceased were encouraged to “chew up” > the estates by overcharging for research, an employee has claimed in > an official complaint. The Public Trustee unit, which denies ” >

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  2. Legislation creating the PTQ and its grubby cohorts QCAT, the OPG and the QIC shows the government fully intended that the Public Trustee would be a criminal organization tasked with exploiting and defrauding those who fall into its clutches and those of the parties subservient to the PTQ, including the Adult Guardian, and the kangaroo court. Lawyers employed by the PTQ are immune from censure by the Legal Services Commission, the OPG cannot fulfil its charter as it is funded by the PTQ and QCAT members obsequiously pander to the PTQ’s every wish. It is obvious however that the PTQ got completely out of control to the extent where it now controls the Attorney General, the very person who is supposedly responsible. for controlling it. Big money involvement is obvious from the commercial relationships between the PTQ, QIC, Morgans Financial Services, BDO, Australian Super and Anglo-American. Companies of this size mistakenly assume they are too big to fall, but the adage ‘the bigger they are …….’ has long been true.

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  3. I had to go do something else for a while after reading ‘The Public Trustee unit, which denies the allegations’. If I hadn’t, I have done some myself really serious physical damage due to splitting my sides laughing. There is no doubt that the PTQ maintains a substantial skullduggery / misinformation / lies and distortion department, but then nobody who has ever been touched by this impossibly nefarious mob of slimeballs would seriously expect anything approximating the truth from one of the goons. There needs to be a whole new dictionary of words to describe the depths of delinquency which the PTQ have achieved. Even the most avowed opponent of the concept of supernatural evil would be convinced of the reality of satanic forces on planet earth after encountering the PTQ. Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein were truly candidates for saint-hood compared with certain PTQ staff. Steinmetz is partly correct in that ‘staff had computers, software and access to the internet’ although he fails to mention the PTQ’s internet terrorism division that practices all manner of shenanigans including phone tapping, denial of service attacks and spamming those who challenge the PTQ. Maybe he isn’t aware of this department but personally I consider the probability of finding frogs feathers or rocking-horse drippings infinitely more likely.

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