Monday 11th of December 2023

organised crime ...

organised crime ...

/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Arial",sans-serif; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}

They ran it like a business. Bonuses for top staff, deals done with the banks, negotiations rather than prosecutions, press releases to spin their product, “tough” regulation. And like a poorly run company, the corporate regulator delivered fat pay cheques to its executives and dispensed favours for the banks but failed to protect its key stakeholders, the rest of Australia, from systemic abuse. Michael West reports on the three-volume, thousand-page clutch of documents which are the Royal Commission’s interim reports.

As the Royal Commission was bearing down upon them, the corporate cops at the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) were busy thrashing out a suite of “deals” with the big banks. “Enforceable Undertakings” they call them. The banks agree to sign a document which says the regulator has concerns they have been naughty. In return, the regulators agree the banks have not really done anything wrong and they agree not to prosecute them. Sometimes there’s a trifling financial “penalty” in the mix.

Soon before the Royal Commission was to begin taking evidence, ASIC struck EU deals with the ANZ and Commonwealth Bank. These EUs appear to have undermined the Royal Commission by effectively limiting the actions it could recommend against ANZ and CBA for clear evidence of misconduct.

As the Interim Report notes: Enforceable undertakings have been negotiated and agreed on terms that the entity admits no more than that ASIC has reasonably based ‘concerns’ about the entity’s conduct. ASIC has issued infringement notices. But by paying the infringement notice the entity makes no admission. It is not taken to have engaged in the relevant contravention. Yet, ASIC and the Commonwealth are prevented from starting a civil or criminal proceeding in relation to the contravention that caused ASIC to issue the infringement notice.

That’s it. Infringement notices. Thousands of ordinary Australians ripped off but the banks are immunised from prosecution; barely a slap on the wrist.

Organised crime