Watchdog attacked over scandal

A senior Labor politician says the Australian Securities and Investments Commission is doing a "crap job" of handling the Commonwealth Bank financial planning scandal.

A senior Labor politician says the Australian Securities and Investments Commission is doing a "crap job" of handling the Commonwealth Bank financial planning scandal.

On Wednesday night, Senator Doug Cameron put the regulator on notice to answer more questions about its conduct after 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, whom ASIC banned for seven years, allegedly forged client signatures, created unauthorised investment accounts and overcharged on fees.

The 10 new questions come after Senator Cameron accused ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell of failing to respond adequately 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 legislation was required to protect the public.

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 that files were being "cleaned up" and ASIC needed to act urgently.

Senator Cameron asked ASIC for an estimate of the money clients had lost because of the inaction. He also wants to know why Mr Nguyen received only a seven-year ban after engaging in "illegal activity".

Mr Kell defended the oversight regime in place at the time of the alleged abuses from 2006 to 2009, although he acknowledged that standards at CBA's financial planning arm were "considerably below what was required".

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