Set up royal commission into financial planning, whistleblower urges Senate

Whistle

Former financial planner and whistleblower Jeff Morris will use an appearance before a Senate hearing on Tuesday to intensify his call for a royal commission into dodgy financial planning practices.

Several senior executives of Australia’s major banks, including the Commonwealth, the National Australia Bank, Macquarie Private Wealth, and the ANZ will make a rare appearance in Canberra before a Senate committee probing financial planning scandals.

In addition to facing an interrogation on their controversial financial planning practices, the bosses are also expected to face questions on their interbank lending practices.

Morris will appear on Tuesday before the banking executives give their evidence with a group of victims cleaned up by poor financial advice.

On Monday night, en route to Canberra, Morris told Guardian Australia he would tell senators that a royal commission was necessary to ensure rogue financial planners faced the consequences of their actions.

“The reason I blew the whistle was because I knew victims stood no chance against the banks,” Morris said.

The whistleblower said the corporate regulator, Asic, also needed to account for its failure to keep the banks accountable.

Morris said it was clear there had been “a spectacular failure by Asic to regulate this industry. You’ve got to wonder when somebody is going to take responsibility for their failures – because when Asic fails, it’s consumers who suffer.”

He added the banks had been very slow to compensate victims, with some payments only flowing in recent weeks in the lead-up to appearances in Canberra by the banking bosses.

Morris said a compensation scheme managed by the Commonwealth Bank needed to be taken away from the institution, which he contended was “thumbing its nose at the Senate”.

Last July, the Senate’s economic references committee called for the Commonwealth Bank and Asic to be investigated by a royal commission.

The then chairman of the committee, Labor senator Mark Bishop, said the conduct of Commonwealth Bank financial advisers was “unethical, dishonest, well below professional standards and a grievous breach of their duties”.

Bishop said the planners “had a callous disregard for their clients’ interests”.

But the Abbott government has been cool on the notion of a royal commission into financial planning.

A spokesman for the assistant treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, told Guardian Australia a round table would be held on financial planning standards with the industry next week – and the government was currently considering the recommendations of a number of inquiries, including the Murray inquiry into financial services.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Katharine Murphy Deputy political editor, for theguardian.com on Monday 20th April 2015 11.28 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

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