Coast adviser accused of taking money set for orphanages
AN INVESTOR with plans to open orphanages around the world has told a court she allegedly lost more than $2 million when she entrusted a Maleny financial advisor with her money.
Lorna Kyle, now 67, said she believed she could grow her family trust and her retirement fund significantly through investing with Peter Hugh Mettam.
Mr Mettam is facing a trial in Brisbane District Court after pleading not guilty to two counts of fraud.
Mrs Kyle said she first invested $350,000 in early 2002 which she believed would be pooled with other investors for a $10 million bank debenture investment.
Mrs Kyle said the family trust money was for her and her husband Trevor to open children's orphanages in Kenya and Thailand.
With her husband planning to retire the next year, Mrs Kyle decided to invest further.
The Perth woman said she sent a further $1 million, after mortgaging her house, and $800,000, from superannuation funds, to Mr Mettam.
She said Mr Mettam told her he did not have an investment in mind for the $1 million but he could put her superannuation money in a short-term fund with 4-6% return over four months.
Mrs Kyle said she told Mr Mettam that money had to be back in her superannuation account by June 30, 2002, in time for tax time auditing.
She said he agreed to those terms but she never saw that money again.
Mrs Kyle said she sent a further $252,000, partly from a friend and partly from mortgaging another property.
She said she regularly phoned Mr Mettam about the investments and he told her they were progressing well.
When she became concerned in late 2002, she sent a fax asking him to outline where the money was, when the investments matured and what the returns would be but said he never responded.
Mrs Kyle said that when Mr Mettam asked her to fly to Queensland to see him, he told her he did not have five investments.
Crown prosecutor Simone Bain told the court the Kyles paid further fees through to 2007 in an attempt to recoup their money, which was always "coming''.
Ms Bain said documents would show the money went into Mr Mettam's HSBC account.
She said an accountant would testify that portions of the money were then transferred into Mr Mettam's personal account, which was used to pay for personal expenses such as groceries, restaurants and for family members.
"The issue for you to consider will be whether or not Peter Mettam acted dishonestly," Ms Bain told the jury.
"It won't be an exercise in mathematics ... it will be an exercise in common sense."
Defence barrister Kevin Kelso said there were more than 10,000 documents in the e-trial but this was not about proper bookkeeping or tax matters or authority to transfer funds.
"I urge you to keep an open mind throughout the trial," he said.
The trial is set for three weeks.