Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has announced the federal opposition would oppose the nomination of former CBA general counsel and Credit Suisse chairman John O’Sullivan as ASIC chair.
Following newspaper reports indicating that the federal government may seek to nominate Mr O’Sullivan to replace current chairman Greg Medcraft, Mr Bowen has announced that the opposition would try to block the nomination.
“Labor makes it very clear, we will not support Mr O'Sullivan's appointment, should it proceed,” Mr Bowen said in a statement.
“Labor does not do this lightly. We do this in light of our most serious concerns and our respect for the importance of ASIC's independence.”
The shadow treasurer argued that Mr O’Sullivan – a former member of, and donor to, the Liberal Party of NSW – is too “partisan” for the high profile public sector position. He also referenced Mr O’Sullivan’s alleged ties to Godwin Grech, the former Treasury official at the centre of the so-called Utegate scandal in 2009.
Mr Bowen did not mention Mr O’Sullivan’s work history as a former general counsel at the Commonwealth Bank or partner at commercial law firm Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills).
“The reputation of the corporate regulator and its leadership team must be beyond reproach and so to appoint Mr O’Sullivan would raise serious questions around ASIC’s independence and its ability to command trust across markets and the Parliament,” Mr Bowen said.
“The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has a vital role to play in regulating financial conduct and protecting Australian consumers and the last thing it needs is this sort of controversy fixing itself upon ASIC’s leadership team.”