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Regulator accused of ‘inconsistent’ punishments

Regulator accused of ‘inconsistent’ punishments

ASIC’s treatment of Dover is “completely inconsistent” with its treatment of larger banks and other financial institutions, according to the company’s director.

Dover Financial Advisers boss Terry McMaster has hit out at the corporate regulator, believing that both he and his collapsed business have been unfairly victimised by ASIC.

In an exclusive interview with My Business’ sister title ifa, Mr McMaster said that Dover requested and cooperated fully with an ASIC audit, which he claims is in stark contrast to “what we now know of other AFSL [Australian Financial Services Licence] audits”.

“So why is Dover, which requested its audit, undertook to meet any ASIC concerns, cooperated 100 per cent, did not cause any loss to a client, and remediated immediately and effectively once it knew of ASIC's concerns, being dragged through this process, with its abundant, long and glossy media releases?

“Why did ASIC force Dover to shut down, but not take similar actions against the bank AFSLs and the AMP AFSLs? Why did ASIC try to give the impression it had nothing to do with Dover shutting down when, very aggressively, and in writing, it did?

“Generally, ASIC’s treatment of Dover is completely inconsistent with its treatment of other AFSLs and other financial institutions, who have done much worse things.”

The Dover boss highlighted ASIC’s inaction against CBA and AMP. Representatives of both institutions have appeared before the banking and financial services royal commission, where significant misconduct was uncovered. For example, both CBA and AMP acknowledged they were charging life insurance premiums to dead people.

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“Also compare ASIC’s treatment of Dover with ASIC’s treatment of institutions such as AMP, for example,” Mr McMaster said, pointing to a letter by ASIC’s Tim Mullaly to AMP outlining the regulator’s concerns about AMP’s failure to cooperate with its audit.

“Compare ASIC and Dover with ASIC and Beacon, where serious, probably criminal, circumstances have been discovered in late 2016 and early 2017 but it appears ASIC did not refer Beacon to the royal commission.”

Mr McMaster believes ASIC gave information about Dover’s client protection policy (CPP) and other matters to the royal commission before it raised its concerns with Dover directly on 22 March, 2018.

“After 22 March, 2018, Dover did not dispute ASIC’s concerns, and immediately remediated the CPP within two weeks, or by early April 2018,” he said.

“Compared to CBA where $3.7 billion was raised in breach of the Corporations Act with no remediation required by ASIC and no penalties were required by ASIC, although eventually the CBA recommended a penalty of $1.25 million.”

The royal commission has also heard that ASIC gave the Commonwealth Bank-owned CommInsure a massive 96 per cent discount on a penalty it issued for misleading conduct, and allowed the bank to draft its press release announcing the penalty.

Regulator accused of ‘inconsistent’ punishments
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