ASIC hits back at media

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ASIC is prepared to undergo an inquiry, following criticism about the way it handled unlawful conduct at Commonwealth Financial planning (Commonwealth FP) several years ago.

In a speech to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations & Financial Services, deputy chairman Peter Kell has fought back at the media, regarding not only the case of Commonwealth FP, but also of failed miner Kagara.

Kell defended the time it took to take action against Commonwealth FP, saying, “[Commonwealth] FP was a complex matter and cases like this involve much background work before a public result is achieved.”

He outlined the action that ASIC took, including:

  • Banning seven advisers
  • Setting up a compensation system that will result in 1,127 customers receiving around $50 million
  • Forcing Commonwealth FP into an enforceable undertaking

Kell refused to discuss whistleblower involvement, and said that ASIC goes out of its way to protect whistleblowers. A Fairfax article earlier this month suggested that ASIC did not provide whistleblowers with enough protection.

FoFA was another key outcome of ASIC’s action, said Kell, as conflicts of interest were ‘at the heart’ of the problems with Commonwealth FP. He went on to fight back at Fairfax coverage of Kagara. Kell said that while ASIC was ‘attacked’, the regulator was given no opportunity to comment.

“ASIC does favours for no-one,” Kell said. “Any suggestion otherwise is a serious smear on this organisation and its people. People work at ASIC because they believe in the public interest, and they are committed to the highest levels on integrity.”

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