The federal opposition’s financial services spokesman says the Treasurer’s refusal to release the review into embattled ASIC chair James Shipton’s expenses is risking the health of Australia’s economic recovery.
Shadow financial services minister Stephen Jones said that Mr Frydenberg had “run out of excuses” for his failure to release Vivienne Thom’s report on the expenses scandal, and that Australia’s financial services industry “demands a strong financial regulator as it continues to navigate the pandemic crisis”.
“The longer he stalls his decision about the future of James Shipton as chairman, the more potholes he’s creating in the long road to economic recovery,” Mr Jones said, adding that the financial services were expecting “a wave of insolvencies, distressed assets and impaired loans”.
“He must immediately decide whether Mr Shipton or someone else will lead ASIC through these challenging economic times. And he must immediately outline how and when Mr Shipton’s replacement will be chosen if his position is untenable.”
While Mr Jones also claimed that Mr Shipton was on “gardening leave” with his full $775,000 a year salary, Mr Shipton is currently going without remuneration as he awaits the findings of the independent review.
It remains unclear whether Mr Shipton will return to the role, although a cache of documents released to the joint committee on corporations – which has responsibility for oversight of the corporate cop – revealed that a relocation package of some $250,000 was agreed with Treasury to cover Mr Shipton’s costs, including taxation advice.
“As Chair Shipton’s circumstances were unique (a very senior appointment where Chair Shipton was relocating back to Australia after an extended period overseas), ASIC worked with Treasury to identify the types of expenses ASIC would pay on Chair Shipton’s relocation to Australia,” ASIC said in one of the documents.
Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) communications also expressed the view that it was “reasonable in the circumstances” for ASIC to proceed with the payments.
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