CBA whistleblower in committee’s sights


05 Mar 2014

By Kate Kachor


Committee members conducting a Senate inquiry into the performance of ASIC are expected to meet this week to lock in dates for a fresh round of public hearings.

Financialobserver understood members of the Senate Economics References Committee would gather to decide when to hold the next hearings for witnesses to provide evidence of their experiences with the corporate regulator.

Among the witnesses expected to appear at the next round of hearings is Commonwealth Financial Planning (Commonwealth FP) whistleblower Jeff Morris.

Proposed dates for the hearings are believed to be in the first week of April, possibly 2 and 3 April, with the location of the hearings mooted to be in Canberra.

It is understood the proposed April hearings would be of an ‘open to the public’ nature, meaning any individual with concerns regarding ASIC’s performance could attend and present evidence to the committee.

The two-day hearings are expected to delve deeper into the circumstances around ASIC’s 16-month delay in acting on a tip-off from whistleblowers about serious concerns within Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) licensee Commonwealth FP. 

The hearings would also provide Morris with a public forum to air any further details in relation to Commonwealth FP.

The proposed April dates follow on from the committee’s first round of public hearings held last month, during which ASIC chair Greg Medcraft faced an almost four-hour grilling.

In June last year, the Senate referred an inquiry into the performance of ASIC to the Senate Economics References Committee for inquiry and report. 

According to the inquiry’s terms of reference, the hearings would focus broadly on ASIC’s performance as a regulator.

Specifically, the inquiry would examine ASIC’s performance in regards to enabling legislation and whether there were any barriers preventing it from fulfilling its legislative responsibilities and obligations. 

It would also examine the accountability framework to which ASIC was subject and whether the framework required strengthening. 

The committee would also explore the workings of ASIC’s collaboration and working relationships with other regulators and law enforcement bodies. 

ASIC’s complaints management policies and practices would also be placed under scrutiny. 

The inquiry would also examine the protections afforded by ASIC to corporate and private whistleblowers.

The committee received 418 submissions and is due to file its report to government on 30 May.

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