Former ACCC chief calls for consumer watchdog to take over ASIC banking powers

9 August 2018

Former ACCC chief calls for consumer watchdog to take over ASIC banking powers

Former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Professor Allan Fels has called for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to be stripped of its regulatory powers over banks, and those powers handed to the ACCC.

Criticising ASIC for being ineffectual in dealing with banking misconduct, Professor Fels told ABC’s AM programme that “ASIC is not feared, unlike the ACCC.”

According to Professor Fels, transferring bank supervisory powers from ASIC to the ACCC was seriously considered by the Wallis Inquiry in 1997, “but fierce lobbying by the financial services sector meant that the ACCC did not get given the coverage.”

“Even at that point, it was obvious that ASIC was not up to the job and nothing has changed,” he added.

Professor Fels’ criticism follows further revelations of unlawful and unethical practices unearthed by the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, during which Commissioner Kenneth Hayne yesterday suggested that the National Australia Bank may have engaged in criminal conduct by charging $3 million in fees to dead people.

Professor Fels has also backed a proposal from the Greens to break up the “big four” banks and wealth management company AMP.

“I’m not sure that we can rely at this point on the market to deliver the result we want,” he said.