'We will find the $100m': Modern treasure hunter's offer

UPDATE: A mystery third-party has offered to continue the investigation into what happened to the nearly $100 million that disappeared when Buderim financial advisor Steve Halgryn died.

Worrells partner Paul Nogueira addressed a group of those who invested their savings with Mr Halgryn at the Maroochydore RSL this morning.

One investor, Nardi van Lille, was at the meeting and said Mr Nogueira explained he had not being able to work out what happened with the missing millions.

Mrs Van Lille and her mum lost $500,000 after they were introduced to Mr Halgryn by a "friend of a friend" and were advised the would be able to get between "14% and 26% return on their investment".

She said they had decided to go ahead because "he was based in Australia, this was not some African scheme, we believed it was all above-board because to do anything in Australia you have to have your Is dotted and your Ts crossed".

Their money, along with those of more than 600 other mostly Zimbabwean and South African investors, is now gone.

Worrells has spent nearly the last year trying to trace if any of the money could be found.

Nardi van Lille and her family lost $500,000 in the financial scheme they invested in with Steve Halgryn.
Nardi van Lille and her family lost $500,000 in the financial scheme they invested in with Steve Halgryn. Warren Lynam

Mrs Van Lille said they were advised at the meeting this investigation had now stalled.

"He said he had investigated his accounts in Australia, but the $100,000 that was in them had by eaten up by lawyers and Worrells and everything else.

"Attempts to get details from the accounts overseas in his name didn't go anywhere as the banks didn't get back to him.

"Our suspicion is there is nothing there anyway.  It looks like it all went pear-shaped after 2012 and it became a Ponzi scheme."

However the investors decided to accept an offer by an "anonymous" third party to continue the investigation on the condition if the money was found, it would get a portion of it.

"Worrells asked the investors to give the go ahead for a lending company of sorts to further investigate and look for the money," Mrs Van Lille said.

"They said they'll want the money paid back with interest."

**WARNING DECEASED BODY**POLICE are working to identify a man, dressed in fishing gear, whose body was found on the beach at Warana this morning.The man, who officers believe is aged in his 50s, was found by walkers near Palkana Park, Warana, shortly before 6am. Photo: Che Chapman / Sunshine Coast
**WARNING DECEASED BODY**POLICE are working to identify a man, dressed in fishing gear, whose body was found on the beach at Warana this morning.The man, who officers believe is aged in his 50s, was found by walkers near Palkana Park, Warana, shortly before 6am. Photo: Che Chapman / Sunshine Coast Che Chapman

Mrs Van Lille said a 90-year-old man was among the group which met in Maroochydore.

"He lost everything and stood up and said he would now have to go and find work," she said.

Another woman, who was from Zimbabwe, told how she was going to have to leave Australia as a result of the financial loss.

"She said she was going to apply for refugee status and go to America," Mrs Van Lille said.

What angered Mrs Van Lille was how ASIC had tied its hands in investigating Mr Halgryn long before his body was found washed up on a beach in Warana.

"How could ASIC let him slip through," she asked.

"He had been investing money for years, his business was more than 10 years old and it was clear the business started to go pear-shaped in 2012.

"How did he operate a Ponzi scheme and get away with it in Australia?  How did it happened under ASIC's noses.

"$100 million is not to be scoffed at."

She said many of the people who met in Maroochydore were too embarrassed to be named.

"No one wanted to publicly admit to the shame.  We were 30 suckers in one room.

"People who met Fanie (Mr Halgryn) said he was such a nice down to earth, honest guy.

"I guess if it seems too good to be true, then it is… but on such a  big scale?"

EARLIER: How can nearly $100 million just go missing?

This is what angry investors who lost their life-savings in an elaborate Ponzi scheme set up by financial advisor Steve Halgryn desperately want to know.

Steve Halgryn
Steve Halgryn

The investors have been called to a meeting by forensic accounting firm, Worrell's, in Maroochydore this morning to explain why it can't find the missing $96 million invested with Mr Halgryn.

They have been advised in a letter from Worrell's for the investigation to continue, they will need to provide more money.

The body of the 52-year-old financial adviser washed up on a Warana beach in April last year.

The executor of his estate, Adrian Hawkes, told The Courier-Mail he was "severely depressed" when he drowned because of the 'predicament he found himself and in the investors in".

Mr Halgryn had operated financial schemes from his Buderim office with around 700, mostly South African and Zimbabwean investors.

Nardi van Lille was travelling up from Brisbane to join in the meeting.

 

Nardi van Lille and her mum lost $500,000 in the financial scheme they invested in with Steve Halgryn.
Nardi van Lille and her mum lost $500,000 in the financial scheme they invested in with Steve Halgryn. Facebook Nardi van Lille with pe

A frustrated Mrs Van Lille and her mum invested $500,000 with the man they knew as "Fanie".

"Between me and my mum, we lost $500,000," she said.

"It was everything my mum had, she now has nothing by a widower's pension from the South African government.

"She lost everything my dad left her and there are many others who also lost everything.

"It has been the worst thing for old people who have no means and no way to get the money back.

"Those left in South Africa and Zimbabwe are living in tents in a bush. It is an absolute tragedy."

Worrell's was appointed as administrator after Mr Halgryn's death to try and trace the missing millions.

Investors have been informed if they wish the investigation to continue, they would have to pay up more money to finance it.

Mrs Van Lille said she didn't know where the administrator thought they would get the money from.

"We have no money, we have nothing to fund anything more," she said.

She couldn't believe after a year there were still no answers.

"They have been at it for a year, but we have no answers".

"If there had been bad investments that went belly up at least we could understand that," she said.

"But to not know... I don't know why the government and the police aren't more involved.

"We must find out how he lost the money."

Administrator Paul Nogueira declined to comment before the meeting.


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