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Relations between regulator and CommBank worsen over handling of rogue financial planner

Relations between regulator and CommBank worsen over handling of rogue financial planner
The relationship between the corporate regulator and the Commonwealth Bank hit a new low this week over who knew what and when about the conduct of West Australian financial planner Stuart Jamieson.

The strained relationship between the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and CBA was also displayed when the commission's new licence conditions on the bank's two financial planning divisions included sign-off from the board.

The revelations about Jamieson come at a sensitive time for the bank and ASIC as they try and dodge some of the more controversial recommendations in a Senate inquiry into ASIC's performance and CBA's handling of a financial planning scandal that included forgery, fraud and a cover-up.

The Jamieson case also puts the spotlight on the need for a national adviser register to track advisers and keep a record of misconduct. But if a rogue planner is allowed to resign there will be no record of misconduct.

Jamieson worked for CBA from 2003 and the bank launched an investigation into him in January 2012. He was suspended in March and resigned before the investigation was completed.

When he joined a WA planner that operates under the Suncorp banner more than a year later, CBA did not divulge, even confidentially, that he had left under a cloud.

The upshot is Jamieson continued to work in the industry and nobody was the wiser about the investigation or the allegations of forgery or other matters.

It raises issues about why it took CBA so long to file a breach report in September last year. CBA admits it took too long and says it now has better processes in place. One would hope so.

For its part, ASIC has also been slow to act. Its explanation? The ''adequacy'' and ''timeliness'' of CBA's breach report. It appears CBA didn't spell out clearly enough allegations of forgery until more recently.

In a statement, CBA said: ''We are reviewing matters where previously it was determined that there was insufficient evidence to warrant a referral to police. Mr Jamieson's matter was included in this process. His matter has now been referred to the WA Police.''

The Jamieson case came to a head after myself and Ben Butler got a tip-off about what was going on in CBA's WA financial planning division.

Around the same time, the Financial Planning Association was also informed and managed to investigate the allegations and expel him as a member on July 23.

The FPA's swift action caused a chain reaction as it informed CBA and ASIC that it was investigating Jamieson. What had been a sleeper for more than 2-1/2 years became a dramatic finale with Jamieson expelled, terminated by his new employer and reported to the police.

Author: Adele Ferguson
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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