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BFCSA: ASIC should lose Consumer Protector role says advocate Denise Brailey and her supporters

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ASIC should lose consumer protection role, says consumer advocate Denise Brailey

Posted yesterday at 7:42pmFri 5 Sep 2014, 7:42pm

Corporate regulator ASIC has again come under fire from politicians and consumer advocates over its regulation of financial planners.

Members of a parliamentary joint committee have criticised the Australian Securities & Investments Commission for not permanently banning a Victorian financial planner who sold his clients forestry investments that failed.

ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell was grilled by Senator John Williams over why WA financial planner Stuart Jamieson was banned by the Financial Planning Association, whereas ASIC was still conducting an inquiry.

Senator Williams said ASIC was undertaking too many investigations, which were taking too long.

"This is the problem, Mr Kell, you have too many ongoing investigations," Senator Williams told the committee.

"One organisation can ban them in four weeks and report it to the detectives, and yours seem forever ongoing."

In June, ASIC was found wanting by a Senate inquiry and accused of ignoring whistleblower warnings about a financial planning scandal at the Commonwealth Bank.

ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft told Friday's hearing that ASIC had sought specialist advice on managing the expectations of whistleblowers and would assign one officer to deal with each whistleblower through the process.

"We encourage whistleblowers," he told the committee.

Mr Medcraft said ASIC would soon release a strategic outlook that would set out key market risks, and how ASIC would tackle the problems. (ASIC continually displays a well timed attack of the "willbees".)

"ASIC is particularly conscious of the community expectation that we take strong and swift action where the law is broken and investor funds are at risk," he said in his opening statement to the committee.

Labor senator Deborah O'Neill, asked why ASIC had only banned Victorian financial adviser, Peter Holt, for three years instead of banning him permanently.

She said Mr Holt's firm was the biggest seller of collapsed agribusiness schemes run by Great Southern and Timbercorp that left investors billions of dollars out of pocket.

ASIC said Mr Holt was banned for giving inappropriate advice to clients.

Liberal MP Tony Smith asked the ASIC officials what financial advisers would have to do to get a life ban.

Mr Medcraft said banned financial advisers had the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and ASIC took that into account when considering the length of any ban.

"It's a right [to have a financial planning licence], it's not a privilege, and often what we see is when the AAT looks at this thing, they also look at the person's right to earn a living and do this business and they balance that with the consumer detriment," he told the committee.

ASIC says it lacks resources to closely monitor financial planners

Mr Kell said ASIC was unable to stop Mr Holt working as an accountant.

Senator Williams was unhappy with the situation.

"He's supposed to be bankrupt but still driving a big Mercedes, still operates his business and is in partnership and still lives in his sprawling home," he said.

"It's very concerning isn't it?"

ASIC says it has just 20 officers to monitor 50,000 financial planners.

Budget cuts and efficiency drives have seen 200 staff go this year, leaving about 1,550 staff. Another 100 people will lose their jobs next year.

Consumer advocate Denise Brailey said ASIC's performance had not been good enough, and said it should be stripped of its consumer protection role.

"Quite frankly, ASIC has done such an abysmal job that a royal commission into the whole sector is definitely, urgently required," she told the ABC in an interview.

"We believe that all consumer protection should be taken out of the hands of ASIC."

ASIC has also revealed that Greg Medcraft spent nearly $83,000 in the first half of the year attending meetings of IOSCO, the international securities regulator, of which he is the chairman.

Topics: consumer-financeconsumer-protectionregulationbusiness-economics-and-financecorporate-governance,federal-governmentaustralia

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  • Duped
    Duped Saturday, 06 September 2014


    What about the banks representative/agent adding fraudulent information on laf's just to put the borrower in severe debt for life, and possibly homeless, while he and the banks go on their merry way collecting the commissions and bonuses. A Royal Commission is a must and with the widest terms of reference.

    Reply Cancel
  • Aries
    Aries Saturday, 06 September 2014

    They get a slap on the wrist and get to keep all their ill gotten commissions while the victims of this
    despicable fraud are killing themselves, losing their homes, losing their families, losing their businesses, farms
    losing every thing they have worked for all their lives.
    Medcraft and Kell should be gaoled, they are dirty rotten, conniving, lying mongrels.

    Reply Cancel
  • setup
    setup Saturday, 06 September 2014

    Too much leniency from the Senate Inquiry. Medcraft and company should have been sacked long ago. I'm surprised they still have their current positions. The Senate should hold more weight and be more severe in punishing the wrong doers.

    Reply Cancel
  • Rob
    Rob Saturday, 06 September 2014

    It seems to me that ASIC is not the only one dragging there feet in the sand, with all the information coming out from all these inquires you would think by now that the senate would take this further and demand action from the powers to be. Instead we still see Medcalf and all of his cronies in the same positions playing god, with peoples lives. Just get the Royal Commission under way so us people can at least wake up in the mornings knowing that something is finally being done. So many of us have been left with no where else to turn, doors closed in our faces at every turn, For Christ sake some one in power have the guts to stand up and do your jobs!!!! How many more of us are going to face suicide because there situation seems hopeless, how many more of us are going to be living on the streets before you do your jobs?? How many of us arn't going to be able to come back from this, that will be trapped in a life of depression, anxiety even if all works out for them?? If this was a movie it would be the biggest box office hit of all time, If I didn't know it all to be true, I would be impressed with all the twists and turns throughout the story. Unfortunately the bitter truth is it is all real! real people, real casualties sent to the wall by ruthless Banksters, judged by people that have now idea on what it is like to struggle to put the next meal on the table. hell to be able to have a table to put the food on!!

    Stop the incompetence, disband ASIC, Get the Royal Commission into the Banking and Financing sector ASAP.

    Tomorrow is another day. I long for the day I can see beyond that!

    Reply Cancel
  • TJ
    TJ Monday, 08 September 2014

    ASIC should not just come under scrutiny for their failure to act appropriately against advisers but also their oversighting role in relation to the two External Dispute Resolution (EDR) Ombudsmen - namely COSL and FOS. I had cause to complain about both to ASIC, asking for their assistance in reinvestigating a matter in which the staff member from COSL in particular carried out an absolutely appalling investigation. I pointed out the Rules under which the Investigation was to be conducted and made comments on the many flaws and blatant disregard the investigation had for those rules. ASIC told me they were not at liberty to investigate an omlbudsman to establish whether or not my complaint was valid.

    Reply Cancel
  • Conbankcan
    Conbankcan Monday, 08 September 2014

    If I steal - I go to jail - if I commit fraud - I go to jail - if a big corporation like the CON bank (CBA) commits fraud they get rewarded??? And protected by ASIC - how is that right? Royal commission now - strip ASIC of its powers now - sack the bank friendly insiders in FOS AND ASIC - bring in the police and jail the perpetrators, seize their assets and give it to the victims......

    Reply Cancel

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