Joe Hockey has launched an extraordinary attack on the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, for failing to police the financial planning sector allowing thousands of customers of the Commonwealth Bank's financial planning arm to be ripped off.
Addressing the Coalition joint party room in Canberra on Tuesday, the Treasurer told government MPs that the performance of the regulator was unsatisfactory.
''I'm very unhappy with the way ASIC has handled this,'' a spokesman for the party-room meeting paraphrased him as saying.
Mr Hockey said while it was important not to overreact - a reference to calls for a royal commission - it was also vital that people affected ''got their money back with compensation''.
The comments came as a number of MPs spoke about fraud and unlawful conduct at the CBA's investment arm, Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited, with at least one one MP backing Labor's proposal for a Senate inquiry if a royal commission is not possible.
Two MPs spoke of family members defrauded, and Mr Hockey himself noted that his mother-in-law had been defrauded of savings.
''ASIC has failed miserably and I'm very, very unhappy with its handling of this,'' Mr Hockey said.
Mr Hockey went on to call for ''appropriate redress for victims'' before adding ''but we can't get into a situation in which government guarantees that investors will never lose money''.
''There has to be a balance - we need a strong cop on the beat,'' he said.
The comments represent the toughest government rhetoric on the issue so far, and suggest serious change is coming to the corporate regulator.
Mr Hockey also criticised the CBA, noting that its slow handling of the problem had not just caused suffering for investors but had done ''reputational damage'' to the bank.Author : Mark Kenny
Source : Sydney Morning Herald
- Banking royal commission: ASIC should cancel big banks' operating licences if they behave badly, experts say
- Consumer advocates back expanded powers for ASIC to probe banks
- Commonwealth Bank sued amid bribery probe
- Former Westpac Bank finance manager faces charges over $2.5 million fraud
- Bank of Queensland beefs up home loan credit checks