by Alan Thornhill
The financial watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, says it took 256 enforcement actions in the first half of this year.
The Senate Economics Committee sharply criticised ASIC in June, saying it had not done enough to protect investors from scams perpetrated by rogue investment advisers, employed by the Commonwealth Bank.
However in a regular, six monthly, report released today ASIC declared that it had been working hard to protect the public.
It said: “ASIC achieved 256 enforcement outcomes to protect financial consumers and enhance the fairness and efficiency of the financial markets.
“ This included criminal as well as civil and administrative (e.g. a banning or disqualification) actions, and negotiated outcomes, including enforceable undertakings.”
The Commission said it had given special attention to action against credit providers for misleading consumers, loan fraud, and working with our overseas counterparts to combat cross-border fraud.
ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said: ‘The National Credit Act has been in force since 2010. Industry has had sufficient time to familiarise itself with its obligations under the legislation.
“Where we see loan fraud or misleading conduct ASIC will take enforcement action.
“The last six months has seen 24 enforcement outcomes in consumer credit,’ Mr Tanzer said.
ASIC today released its sixth six-monthly enforcement report, detailing outcomes achieved between 1 January 2014 and 30 June 2014.
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government has been accused of acting illegally, by returning more than 40 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka.
The Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, said this became evident when the government confirmed the “illegal” transfer earlier today.
“The government has handed these people over to danger without properly assessing their claims for protection,” Senator Hanson Young said.
However the Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, insisted that the government had met its international obligations in the case.
Senator Hanson-Young also said Morrison, must now be upfront about the fate of 153 other asylum seekers, who had been on a second boat.
There had been 37 children among them.
“It has been over a week since these people have been ‘disappeared’, the government must confirm whether they are being held in custody on board Australia’s ‘prison ships’.
Mr Morrison is still saying nothing about the second boat.
Senator Hanson-Young was blunt in her criticism.
““There is nothing legal about what the government is doing out on the high seas,” she said.
“Minister Morrison can continue to repeat his lies, it doesn’t make it true.
“ What the government is doing is illegal,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
“The United Nations has confirmed that the government’s actions do not accord with our legal obligations,” she added.
“The government continues to think that they can act above the law, this contempt will be tested in the parliament when the new senate votes on a motion condemning their actions out on the high seas,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
Mr Morrison will visit Sri Lanka this week to attend a commissioning ceremony for two former Australian Customs patrol vessels gifted to the Sri Lankan government.
by Alan Thornhill
Peter Kell, declared today that actions of Commonwealth Financial Planning, an arm of the Commonwealth bank, six years ago, had been “simply unacceptable.”
The Deputy Chairman of Australia’s financial watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, also conceded that ASIC’s response, at the time, could have been better.
Mr Kell made these statements in a recorded message, on the internet, timed to precede a Four Corners program tonight, on CFP’s failures.
It also coincides with a Federal government decision to introduce legislation that would free financial organisations, like banks, from an obligation to act in their clients’ best interests, when giving general advice.
Mr Kell said many clients had suffered big losses, as a result of CFP’s actions six years ago.
“That is why we banned eight advisors from the industry,” he said.
He said ASIC had secured $52 million worth of refunds for the clients involved.
It had also obtained “an enforceable undertaking” from the Commonwealth Bank, which had changed the way it conducts this kind of business.
However Mr Kell also conceded that ASIC had acted too slowly in this case, that its investigation had not been transparent.
“We could have acted faster,” he said.
Mr Kell promised that another recorded message would be put onto the ASIC website, after the Four Corners program tonight.
by Alan Thornhill
The chief executive of a collapsed technology company has appeared in court on multiple deception charges.
The charges, against Peter Mavridis, of Bentleigh, Victoria, follow investigations conducted by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
These followed the collapse of the S Central Group of companies, which provided information technology services to customers in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
ASIC also alleges that Mr Mavridis falsified other documents that were required by NAB in support of the false invoices that were submitted.
Mr Mavridis has also been charged with dishonestly using his position as a director by allegedly using $20,000, held on trust for the NAB, to clear a personal credit card debt.
He faced 24 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception, 10 charges of false accounting and 1 charge of dishonest use of position as a director.
The matter was adjourned until June 10.
by Alan Thornhill
Click on this picture to see the damage
6th April, Honiara: Heavy rain and floods have left over 16 dead and tens of thousands homeless.
The Solomon Islands government declared a state of emergency last week after the Matanikau River burst its banks,sweeping away, people, houses and bringing down bridges.
The flood waters have receded, but the country is yet to come to terms with the full extent of the damage.
While rain lashed the country,major damage is seen in the China Town area of Honiara and in the North Eastern part of Guadalcanal.
“A very sad and depressing atmosphere loomed all around us – as we Fr.Srimal Priyanga and myself – walked on the bank of the Matanikau River
around China Town area.
The Matanikau metal and wooded bridge is completely destroyed.
The concrete bridge, the lifeline that links Henderson with Honiara has been severely damaged.
A single line of only light vehicles is permitted on the bridge at any time.
With people displaced, infrastructure down and limited food supply – the weeks and months ahead will be difficult.
The Solomon Islands seems to be moving from one disaster to the next -be they natural or man made.
Hardly have they risen when something else brings them down.
Thus, while there is progress, it is slow and one has to have the patience to encourage it to happen.
With a little over 40 per cent literacy, education is the key to a brighter future that cannot be compromised.
At this time of struggle, Don Bosco Technical Institute, Henderson has postponed its opening for Term 2, to Tuesday, 8th April, 2014.
Travel will be difficult for the students.
The Salesians are looking at possibilities to ensure that students who have to travel great distances have the possibility of staying at the
The Institute is a day school.
It does not have proper boarding, dining or sanitisation facilities.
We ask you to lift us in prayer that we make the right decisions for the good of the students and the future of the country, Solomon Islands.
Father Ambrose said he is hoping that the schools will start again soon – as otherwise the students will have nothing to do and crime will be on
Several schools have now displaced victims living in them.
He said, too, that Australia and New Zealand have now contributed $300,000 each, for emergency relief measures.
“Do continue to pray for us,” Father Ambrose asked.
by Alan Thornhill
The former assistant federal treasurer Arthur Sinodinos admitted today that he did not know why Australian Water Holdings expenses were “going through the roof.”
Senator Sinodinos, who stood aside from that post, was replying to questions at an anti-corruption hearing in Sydney today.
Counsel Assisting Geoffrey Watson who was questioning him at the time, asked why AWH’s costs had risen sharply, while Sinodinos was a director of that company.
Senator Sinodinos replied: “I don’t know the full answer to that.”
Mr Watson asked him if he did nothing to ascertain the facts behind the costs.
“Not specially, no,” Senator Sinodinos replied.
Watson: “What did you do as a director of the company to get to the bottom of his dispute?”
Sinodinos: “I participated in the board discussion.”
Watson: “What did you do beyond participating in the board discussion?”
Sinodinos: “That was it.”
The Independent Commission Against Corruption, which is holding the hearing hap previously been told that Sinodinos – who was not then a Senator – stood to make up to $20 million if AWH won a lucrative contract with the state-owned Sydney Water company.
He was Prime Minister John Howard’s right hand man for several years and has also been NSW Liberal Party treasurer.
by Alan Thornhill
Three Sydney men have been convicted on insider trading charges following an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
Christopher Jordinson, a former CEO of UCL Resources Limited his nephew, Joe Turner, and Jonathan Breen were convicted and sentenced for their roles in an insider trading scheme which generated $20,000 in profit.
Appearing in Downing Centre District Court, Jordinson, 49, received a sentence of imprisonment for two years, fully suspended on the condition that he enter into a two year good behaviour bond.
Turner, 23, and Breen, 30, were ordered to be of good behaviour for two years and to pay pecuniary penalty orders to the value of $2,769.12 and $13,805.10, respectively.
Commissioner Cathie Armour said: “ASIC has the systems and the people to pursue insider trading matters of any kind.
“The conviction of these three individuals highlights our ongoing focus of ensuring the market operates in a fair and efficient manner,” she added.
In November 2013, Jordinson, pleaded guilty to communicating inside information to Turner about the 2013 takeover of UCL by Oman-based Mawarid Mining LLC.
Turner then passed the information to Breen, who used his share trading account to buy UCL shares for Turner and another person.
On 11 April 2013, Breen acquired 107,463 shares of UCL at a price of 13 cents per share for the benefit of himself, Turner and the other person.
The takeover was announced on 23 April 2013 at a price of 31 cents per share.
Turner and Breen pleaded guilty to one count each of insider trading in October 2013.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions prosecuted the matter.
by Alan Thornhill
Three former directors of national whitegoods distributor Kleenmaid have been ordered to stand trial on 20 criminal charges including a $13 million fraud on Westpac and 18 charges of insolvent trading.
Following a three-week committal hearing in November 2013 which ended after a further day of hearing on 31 March 2014, Andrew Eric Young, Bradley Wendell Young and Gary Collyer Armstrong were committed to stand trial in the Maroochydore District Court on a date to be fixed.
Kleenmaid entered voluntary administration in 2009 and liquidators reported consolidated debts of almost $100 million.
ASIC is also alleging that Mr Armstrong and Andrew Young dishonestly withdrew more than $300,000 from the company’s bank accounts two days before it went into administration.
The former directors have not been required to enter a plea and are on conditional bail.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting the matter
Weathercoast by Alan Thornhill
A novel on the murder of seven young Anglican Christian Brothers in the Solomon Islands.
Available now on the iTunes store.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
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