The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has admitted that it went direct to Griffith University academics to produce what has proved to be a controversial submission on the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) code of ethics because it was running short of time.
It had been assumed the submission had been commissioned via ASIC’s Consumer Advisory Panel, but the regulator has admitted it went direct and commissioned the submission itself, paying $10,000 to the academics, Dr Hugh Breakey and Professor Charles Sampford.
In a detailed explanation responding to specific questions from a Parliamentary Committee, ASIC said it adopted this approach because of the tight time-frame and acknowledged that it had been assisted by FASEA extending the timeframe for submissions.
“In this case, ASIC undertook a direct approach to a number of possible suppliers and recommended suppliers. Direct approaches to particular suppliers was considered appropriate as the work required specialist expertise and needed to be completed within a short-time frame,” the regulator said.
“The scope of the work was set out by email to the identified supplier, Dr Breakey, who had the necessary expertise, capacity and availability to prepare the submission and attend a roundtable on 29 June 2018 in response to the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority consultation about:
i) the draft Code of Ethics for financial advisers; and
ii) the proposed guidance on educational pathways for all advisers developed by FASEA.
“Dr Breakey is an expert in the area FASEA was consulting on. He was the President of the Australian Association for Professional and Applied Ethics, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institution for Ethics, Governance & Law at Griffith University.”
“Because of the narrow scope of the work, short time frame and cost of the procurement, the Commonwealth Standard Purchase Order terms and conditions were used to govern this arrangement,” it said.
NSW Liberal back-bencher, Jason Falinksi had used questions on notice from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services to question precisely how ASIC had decided to pursue Breakey to develop the submission.