VOFF accuses ASIC of uneven pursuit of justice

In the wake of the Commonwealth Bank’s (CBA’s) $700 million settlement with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), Victims of Financial Fraud (VOFF) has accused the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) of failing to fairly and consistently pursue justice.

“Whether crime gangs are deporting ill-gotten gains through our banks or whether they are taking them out via offshore hedge funds, as with the Trio fraud, two things remain the same – ASIC is nowhere to be seen and the disparity in how justice is handed out,” VOFF said.

The group pointed to the regulator’s treatment of the Trio case as opposed to that of CBA as proof of this.

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VOFF alleged that after the Trio fraud, ASIC and then-Minister for Financial Services, Bill Shorten, made a “scapegoat” of an individual adviser, “virtually destroying a family business”, rather than pursuing those at the core of the scheme.

It contrasted this with CBA’s punishment of $700 million and no banning after admitting to breaching anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws.

“AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose said the bank is not the target – it’s the criminals who are the targets. Tell that to the lone advisor who has lost his professional life!” VOFF said.

It said it expected similar leniency toward the industry funds who, it recently came to light, had made payments to union heads of approximately $60 million over the last decade.

“How can these payments be in the members’ best interest? More importantly, what is ASIC going to do about the non-disclosure of these monies?” VOFF asked.

“VOFF predict – nothing. VOFF members who are invested in union superannuation funds report that they were never informed of these payments to unions or were even asked for their approval.”

The victims’ organisation also questioned the Government’s ability to both hold ASIC to account and respond appropriately to financial crime.

“Australians are cynical over the remoteness of politicians to fathom the suffering caused by the financial plundering and the disparity in justice from one end of town to the other,” VOFF said.

“Will the Federal Government hold ASIC to account and work hard to award compensation to the Trio fraud victims forthwith?”

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