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ASIC slow to act on conflicts of interest

Sarah Kendell
— 1 minute read

The corporate regulator has revealed that its internal conflict of interest rules for staff and commissioners had not been reviewed for almost 18 months prior to the expenses scandal that saw ASIC deputy chair Daniel Crennan resign and could still claim the scalp of embattled chair James Shipton.

In responses to questions on notice from the parliamentary joint committee on corporations and financial services, ASIC said it had separate rules on conflicts of interest and disclosure for staff and commissioners, which were supposed to be reviewed every two years.

“The policy on disclosure obligations of ASIC members applies to commissioners and is a bespoke policy given that it reflects the special requirements applying to commissioners as statutory officeholders,” the regulator said.

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“The policy on avoiding conflicts of interests and improper use of information applies to staff members.”

ASIC said the policy for commissioners had last been updated in July 2019, and that further changes had been due to take place in 2021.

“The commission policy is under review, with certain changes having already been the subject of in-principle approval by the commission,” the regulator said. 

“The updated policy is to be considered by ASIC’s commission in early 2021.”

While the staff policy had been updated in late 2020 to take account of “minor updates made to reflect certain legislative changes”, the last full review had been in March 2018, ASIC said.

The regulator said the policy had “recently been the subject of a significant piece of work to be updated”, and commissioners had been due to consider the changes at the end of 2020.

The news comes following the completion of an independent review into Mr Shipton’s expenses, which were flagged by the Australian National Audit Office and referred to Treasury in September last year, causing Mr Shipton to stand aside in October pending the results of the inquiry.

“The government has received and is considering the independent review and will respond in due course,” a Treasury spokesperson told InvestorDaily.

Mr Shipton was found to have charged over $118,000 in accounting expenses to the regulator, relating to his relocation from the US to take up the position of ASIC chair.

Former ASIC deputy chair Mr Crennan also resigned late last year after he was found to have exceeded his remuneration package by expensing $750 per week in accommodation payments to the regulator, relating to his relocation to Sydney to take up his position.

 

ASIC slow to act on conflicts of interest
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