ASIC deputy chair quits over expenses accusations

By on 27/10/2020 | Updated on 27/10/2020
Australia's corporate, markets, financial services and consumer credit regulator has lost its deputy chair. Credit: Patrick McLachlan/Pexels

The deputy chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Daniel Crennan, stepped down on Monday after it was revealed the commission had incorrectly paid him around AU$70,000 (US$50,000) in relocation expenses, while the chairman has said he’ll “step aside” while the payments are investigated. 

The moves followed a Senate hearing on Friday, when ASIC said it had paid out more than AU$180,000 (US$130,000) to cover expenses for Crennan and chairman James Shipton following their appointments. According to the Australian Financial Review, the government auditor criticised the size of the payments, which included nearly AU$20,000 (US$14,000) for tax advice to Shipton to facilitate his move from the US in 2018. 

The auditor also highlighted payments worth the equivalent of AU$750 (US$540) per week to cover Crennan’s rent in 2018 and 2019, to support his move from Melbourne to Sydney after he was asked to relocate. On Friday Shipton told parliament that he would stand aside while the payments were investigated, and on Monday Crennan formally tendered his resignation.  

One down…

In a statement issued by law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler and seen by the Australian Financial Review, Crennan said: “I had been intending to retire from my position in July 2021.  

“However, in the current circumstances, I have decided that it is in the best interests of ASIC for me to resign now. In order to ensure that ASIC’s important work is not disrupted, I will remain available to facilitate the orderly transfer of work to my successor.” 

In his statement, Crennan said that he had originally been reassured that the relocation payments were ASIC’s relocation policy, and when he was informed that wasn’t the case he offered to repay the money. He said: “I am grateful to the Commonwealth government for the opportunity to serve the community as an ASIC commissioner. I thank my fellow commissioners and wish them and the hard-working staff of ASIC every success in the important work they do on behalf of all Australians.” 

Former inspector general of intelligence Vivienne Thom is undertaking an independent review of ASIC benefits, which is due to be completed by the end of the year. 

In a statement seen by the Australian Financial Review, Shipton said: “It’s very important that I act with integrity and honour. That means I need to act in the best interest of ASIC and its final purpose to build a fair, honest and efficient financial system for all Australians. If I in any way impede that purpose, the right thing for me to do is to step aside until such time that I can.” 

ASIC, Australia’s corporate, markets, financial services and consumer credit regulator, is tasked with overseeing the financial system, enforcing relevant laws, and promoting transparency in the finance sector. 

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