Angry Diggers ‘ dudded’ Soldiers in red after investing in property
TOWNSVILLE soldiers were sent to seminars by investment spruiker Hugh Ochremienko at their barracks by a major who then went to work for the controversial promoter.
Some of the troops who were persuaded into buying what are now dud properties want to know why the seminars were allowed to be run on a Defence base.
Three soldiers said they encountered Mr Ochremienko at Lavarack Barracks prior to deploying to the Middle East.
One was introduced by Commanding Officer Major Nigel Earnshaw, who now works for Mr Ochremienko.
A fourth said his meeting was in the officers’ mess.
Two soldiers said prior to deploying to Iraq, one in 2009, the other in 2010, their battle group was told to assemble in the 2RAR unit training facility.
Mr Ochremienko was inside, with pamphlets. One said the pitch was they would earn $ 60,000- 80,000 tax- free on deployment and should invest with Mr Ochremienko.
“He stood in front of an entire infantry and armoured corps and gave us a spiel on the National Rental Affordability Scheme and on property deals in Townsville and Darwin,” he said. “Who brought him on to army property? That’s what I’m most angry about. You take the information you get on army property as gospel.”
On Saturday News Corp Australia revealed war heroes said they faced losing their life savings – or in some cases, superannuation – after Mr Ochremienko persuaded them to buy property that flopped.
Up to 200 soldiers and offi- cers were convinced to pour their deployment money into underperforming property developments, mainly in Darwin.
Mr Ochremienko has denied his clients lost money, saying market- wide declines in values and delays in receiving government subsidies were offset by tax benefits built into the deals he had set up.
A now ex- soldier who attended a briefing said the house he was sold for $ 408,000 was now worth $ 360,000.
The soldier who met Mr Ochremienko in the mess said he was substantially in the red.
Defence said “due to the historical nature of this inquiry Defence will not be able to provide a response” until today.
Three soldiers said Mr Earnshaw was their OC.
According to a 2009 media report, he had been in command of the Iraq Security Detachment since 2003.
Mr Earnshaw, who became a major before retiring in 2013 after 22 years in the army, did not respond yesterday, nor did Mr Ochremienko.