Illustration: John Spooner.
Fairfax special: Planners go rogue
One of the whistleblowers who tipped off the Australian Securities and Investments Commission about a scandal inside Commonwealth Bank's financial planning arm has described the regulator's submission to a Senate inquiry as ''inadequate'', full of spin and riddled with excuses.
Jeff Morris, who contacted ASIC in October 2008 about a ''high-level conspiracy'' inside the bank's financial planning division (CFPL), said after reading ASIC's submission his conclusion was that the regulator was full of sleep-walkers.
He says despite ASIC's admission that it could have acted quicker and been more transparent in terms of its dealings with the whistleblowers, he felt let down as there was no mention of protection for whistleblowers.
''That's probably because, in reality, there is none. They left me to negotiate my own exit from CBA and when I raised a concern about death threats I believed had been made, I was told by my ASIC contact in a rather offhand manner, 'It's probably bullshit but if you're worried, go to the police.'''
Morris, who left the bank in February, was one of a group of whistleblowers, known as the ferrets, who tipped off the regulator about the scandal inside the division.
The expose prompted all sides of politics to support a Senate inquiry into the performance of ASIC.
...''In the real world people are more concerned about what you actually do about the problems. In ASIC's case, on their own tacit admission, it was absolutely nothing for years, virtually nothing for several more years and not much after that. Here we are 10 years later in 2013 and, only after public exposure, ASIC are now magnanimously prepared to admit they could and should have acted faster!''
Another ferret was less forgiving: ''I think this version of events reflects far worse on ASIC than simple inertia. To suggest that they already knew about the problems at CFPL when they received allegations of active file tampering in progress and that the appropriate response to this on their part was to continue a monthly catch-up over a cup of tea with the CFPL management responsible for another 16 months is an explanation only ASIC, past and present, could think creditable.''
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/business/asic-asleep-on-the-job-over-cba-20130805-2ra39.html#ixzz4CpvaVE5t
I happen to know exactly what ASIC were doing in 2003 when they should have been acting on CBA. They were spending millions of dollars and had over 25 different people working to destroy my life, even though, as Judge Bill White said that it was quite obvious I was not a corporate criminal, as I had all my assets in my own name (my house, my shares, my bank accounts, my businesses) which is the opposite of what corporate criminals do. They normally have them in trust accounts and/or offshore tax havens such as in Panama. ASIC are lazy. My lawyers said the only reason ASIC pursued me was because they could easily get access to all my assets. The end result of ASIC's abuse of power was that it was clearly found by the courts that there were absolutely no elements of dishonesty, intent to gain, or even any breach of his director’s duties in any way by Mr. Manners.
With my integrity fully intact, Judge Bill White, who unlike the media who reported on the matter was present during the case, summed up the five-year ordeal in his final remarks on the whole matter (on 4th Nov 2005) as follows: "Mr. Manners, this has been a tortuous ordeal for you and your family. You are free to go." Mr. Manners now offers "corporate crisis support" to others going through similar ordeals and seeks to stand up for the numerous “little guys” who get trampled on by our increasingly unwieldy big government.