An­gry Dig­gers ‘ dud­ded’ Sol­diers in red af­ter in­vest­ing in prop­erty

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JOHN ROLFE

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.

Ma­jor Nigel Earn­shaw ( left) and Hugh Ochremienko.

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