Aug 09, 2018

Retirement village operator faces legal action

Almost a year after his retirement village faced a staff walkout, and eventually closed, operator Stephen Snowden is facing legal action.

Consumer Affairs Victoria has now launched criminal proceedings against Mr Snowden, the operator of Berkeley Village, claiming he operated the retirement village between July and September last year when he was not permitted to.

Staff walkouts, unsafe conditions

Berkeley Village was closed last November after the local council deemed it too “dangerous” for residents to live in.

In September, Berkeley staff had walked off the job, claiming they had not been paid in months. Some staff were left being owed thousands of dollars. The walkout left 16 residents to look after their own care.

And then in November, following an inspection by the council, residents were given fines and repair costs of more than $500,000. With residents unable to foot the bill, the village was closed.

Consumer Affairs will seek financial compensation from Mr Snowden.

The maximum penalty under The Retirement Villages Act is 50 penalty units, which amounts to $8.059.50, according to Fairfax.

Mr Snowden is known to be a convicted criminal and bankrupt, and he is rumoured to have links to underworld figures.

The Department of Health and the Victorian Coroner investigated Mr Snowden’s aged care business, Cambridge Aged Care, in 2013, in relation to poor care of residents.

The Supreme Court of Victoria also ruled in favour of Westpac after the bank chased Mr Snowden for $13 million he allegedly misappropriated, according to Fairfax.

Proceeds from unit sales gone missing

As many as 30 families of residents at Berkeley Village claim they have sold apartments after their family member left or died, but have never received the proceeds from the sales.

The revelations led to the establishment of various enquiries into the fairness and transparency of business practices in the retirement village sector, which in turn led to the government developing a draft code. But consumer movements claim the code as ineffective.

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