Hundreds of people have rallied in Mandurah against a federal government regulatory body they claim has been "criminally negligent", with tens of millions of dollars of their money on the line.
Victims of the failed property management group Sterling First congregated at David Grays Arena on Friday to speak out against the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and demand their money returned.
Prior to its collapse last month, Sterling First marketed lifetime lease packages for pensioners and people approaching retirement.
The packages allowed customers to rent residential properties for a certain amount of time, as an alternative to buying a home.
The residents, predominantly seniors, are seemingly set lose up to $300,000 each, with an estimated $36 million in total on the line.
Many of the victims are from Mandurah and the Peel region, with the Mandurah Mail reporting last month local residents had more than $10 million of combined investment under threat.
The affected parties said they were seeking answers from ASIC as to why they were not notified about the inquiries into the company before its collapse.
Banking & Finance Consumer Support president Denise Brailey, who is representing the victims, said ASIC was at fault for the loss of the residents' money.
"The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and ASIC have been disastrous twin peaks of regulation," she said.
"This ... is a disgraceful case of criminal negligence by the regulator.
"The evidence is against ASIC, it always was.
"The federal government has known about these ... structures since 2001.
"They have known about the chaos it causes."
Ms Brailey said she would fight to have the residents' money returned and wanted an outcome in the near future.
"I want the $36 million paid up because I'm not doing this for another 12 months," she said.
"There are at least four people here with terminal illnesses."
ASIC released a statement on Friday to reassure impacted residents the organisation had "prioritised this matter so that it can take appropriate court action against those responsible".
"ASIC will keep investors updated on any significant developments in relation to this work via the ASIC website," the statement reads.
"ASIC will also continue working with the liquidators of the Sterling group of companies and the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety."
In terms of returning the lost money, the ASIC statement said the organisation was not able to assist - but impacted people could contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority or Macquarie Bank.
"Unfortunately, ASIC is unable to assist in the manner requested," the statement reads.
"ASIC is not able to directly make funds available for the compensation of investors who have suffered loss."
To read the full ASIC statement, click here.
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