ASIC under fire over bank scandal

ASIC has been accused of doing a "crap job" of its handling of the Commonwealth Bank financial planning scandal by a senior Labor politician.

ASIC has been accused of doing a "crap job" of its handling of the Commonwealth Bank financial planning scandal by a senior Labor politician.

On Wednesday night Senator Doug Cameron put the regulator on notice to answer questions about its conduct following revelations in Fairfax Media of improprieties by CBA financial planner Don Nguyen, who once controlled about $300 million in retirement savings on behalf of 1300 clients.

Mr Nguyen, who has been banned by ASIC for seven years, allegedly forged client signatures, created unauthorised investment accounts and overcharged on fees.

Senator Cameron accused ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell of failing to adequately respond to questions from Nationals senator John Williams at a senate estimates hearing on Tuesday.

"This is a very serious issue for ASIC, it's a serious issue for the government and all the senators are concerned about it. So just don't take me on a waltz around the merry-go-round. Take that on notice," he said at the hearing.

He later told Fairfax Media that he wanted to see whether legislative change was required to protect the public. "We need to ensure that ASIC operates in the public's interests," he said.

The corporate regulator is facing bipartisan political pressure over its handling of the CBA scandal, with the regulator also grilled by Senator Williams.

Both sides of politics question why the corporate regulator took 16 months to act on a tip from a group of bank whistleblowers who contacted ASIC in October 2008 warning them that files were being "cleaned up" and that they needed to act urgently. Senator Cameron asked ASIC for an estimate of the amount of money clients had lost because of inaction from the regulator.

aferguson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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