The tax advice provided to stood-aside Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) chair, James Shipton was originally estimated as likely to cost $9,000 but ended up costing $118,000.
The Senate Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services has been told by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) that ASIC’s payment of Shipton’s tax advice had been agreed as part of his original employment arrangements, but at a cost much lower than ultimately occurred.
The auditor-general, Grant Hehir said that the existence of tax advice payment to major consultancy KPMG had been appropriately declared, but that the question was whether it was ultimately consistent with the Remuneration Tribunal rules.
He said that if the payment had been around the original $9,000 estimate it would have been within those rules.
The committee was also told that the ANAO was uncertain why the ultimate bill rose to $60,000 and was broken up into a series of $25,000 procurement invoices and there was nothing to say how it grew from those three invoices up to the end-point.
The auditor-general suggested there had been an initial failure on the part of ASIC to take the situation seriously leading to him placing pressure on ASIC to deal with the issue.