Allegations made in The West Australian newspaper last weekend of a $5 million fee paid by Westpoint to consultants Tom Collins and Sarah Brennan have been strongly contested by Collins.

Collins and Brennan both helped Westpoint develop its Income Fund, a regulated product, but they were not associated with the unregulated promissory notes which have since proved to be Westpoint’s undoing. As well, Collins and Brennan are non-executive directors of The Private Collection, a third-party distribution company that helped promote the Westpoint Income Fund to licensed planners over a nine-month period in 2004/5. The West Australian attributed a Westpoint source as saying “… Ms Brennan and Mr Collins were paid about $5 million for their work on the fund, which offered advisers far lower commissions than the mezzanine schemes”. “I absolutely refute the $5 million figure,” Collins said. “We were just one of the many professional consultants used by Westpoint.” He said the actual fee was a small fraction of the quoted figure but was not able to reveal it because of confidentiality agreements signed with Westpoint. It is understood both KPMG and Freehills also completed consultancy work for Westpoint. The West Australian also claimed Brennan resigned from the Financial Planning Association (FPA) board last week as a result of its investigation into Westpoint. “Her resignation was announced to finance industry newsletters late yesterday, just minutes after an FPA spokesman told WestBusiness Ms Brennan did not have any conflict of interest between her relationship with Westpoint and her FPA duties,” the paper said last weekend. However, an FPA spokesperson said that claim was “deluded” as Brennan’s impending resignation to help care for her ailing father had been known by the board for a couple of weeks. Brennan resigned from the FPA just days after the completion of the organisation’s Conflict of Interests principles, a project she was heavily involved in. “With Conflict of Interest principles complete and recruitment for the new chief executive officer almost complete, I need to cut back on my FPA involvement to spend time with my father while I can,” Brennan said in a statement issued last Sunday.

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