The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has directed millions of dollars in so-called Community Benefits Payments to consumer advocacy groups over the past five years including $2.5 million to the Superannuation Consumers’ Centre but the greatest amount has gone to the Ecstra Foundation led by Paul Clitheroe.
Documentation tabled in response to members of the key Parliamentary Committee on Corporations and Financial Services had revealed where ASIC has chosen to direct money extracted from major financial institutions in the form of penalties, with Ecstra Foundation receiving well over $55 million.
Ecstra describes itself as a not-for-profit organisation committed to building the financial capability of all Australians and has acknowledged that its initial funding had been provided through the Community Benefit Payments schemes, meaning “we will always place consumers at the centre of our work”.
The ASIC document shows that Financial Counselling Australia has also been a significant beneficiary alongside the Ethics Centre, the Financial Rights Legal Centre, Consumer Action Law Centre and Financial Literacy Australia.
The document was produced by ASIC after questions were asked about why the Superannuation Consumers’ Centre, which is closely associated with consumer group Choice, was chosen to receive the $2.5 million raised in penalties from the superannuation businesses of ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank.