Kenneth Hayne has delivered a sharp rebuke to IOOF for failing to produce documents ahead of the royal commission’s public hearings into superannuation, which commence next week.
In a ruling published by the royal commission yesterday, commissioner Kenneth Hayne laid out a timeline of correspondence with IOOF subsidiary Questor Financial Services.
Questor was issued with Notice to Produce NP-962 on Wednesday 11 July 2018, which required the company to produce documents prepared for Questor board meetings (‘board packs’) for each meeting of the board held since 1 July 2011.
The notice required the production of the documents by 4pm Tuesday 17 July.
At 3:30pm on Tuesday 17 July, IOOF solicitors King and Wood Mallesons produced documents in response to the notice, stating: “IOOF believes that the documents being produced constitute complete production in response to the Notice to Produce.”
On examining the documents, solicitors assisting the commission noted that while complete board packs had been produced for the years between 2011 and 2014, for subsequent years only agendas had been produced.
In response to an urgent request from solicitors assisting, Questor's solicitors said the absence of the files was “inadvertent” and “a result of a technical error”.
Questor continued to fail to produce the documents until 9:48pm Sunday 22 July, with its solicitors noting that Questor “makes privilege claims in relation to parts of the documents produced”.
An affidavit in support of the claims for privilege was eventually supplied by Questor's solicitors at 1:11am on Wednesday 25 July.
Commissioner Hayne has examined un-redacted versions of the documents, noting that “the claims for privilege appeared large”.
“I reject many of the claims that were made. Many of the documents in respect of which privilege is claimed are not documents that record or refer to communications made for the dominant purpose of IOOF or Questor obtaining legal advice; they do not record or refer to communications of that kind; and, they are not documents created for the dominant purpose of obtaining legal advice,” Mr Hayne said.
He noted that the claims made in respect of board packs dated after 2015 were in “sharp contrast” with the fact that no claims were made about the board packs for 2011–2014.
“Prompt and proper compliance with Notices to Produce is required by law and is essential to the proper execution of the commission’s work. Delays of the kind that have occurred in this case impede the proper work of the commission. Ill-based claims for privilege further impede its work,” Mr Hayne said.
IOOF will be one of the topics discussed at the royal commission public hearings into superannuation which commence on Monday 6 August.
You can follow the hearings on a live blog on InvestorDaily.