There were explosive scenes at the banking royal commission on November 27, during its final days as an audience member accused it of “concealing fraud”.
ASIC a toothless tiger when it comes to the Commonwealth Bank
The banking royal commission was hijacked this afternoon by an outburst from an angry audience member who accused it of fraud.
The man interrupted senior counsel assisting the commission Rowena Orr QC, who was questioning Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) chair James Shipton.
Royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC repeatedly asked the man to stand down without success, and appeared to be thoroughly unimpressed during the tirade.
The man, who had been seated in the public gallery, ranted against alleged corruption within the banking and financial services industries.
Although his words were difficult to hear over the commission’s webcast, he was clearly heard accusing the commission of being “corrupt” and “concealing fraud”.
“Why are you concealing the greatest fraud in this country which is variable interest rate loans?” he said.
Security eventually escorted the individual from the courtroom.
In typical Rowena “Shock and Orr” style, the QC continued on completely unfazed, immediately firing off her next question.
Earlier today, Mr Shipton admitted ASIC should take criminal action against the bigger financial institutions more often, and said the organisation had failed to act against the Commonwealth Bank’s mishandling of consumer credit insurance and National Australia Bank’s home loan fraud.
“Today these matters would be handled very differently,” Mr Shipton said.
“I used the word mistake deliberately because mistake, in effect, constitutes a misguided decision.”
He said ASIC had only just started to take action against CBA in October — more than two years after the bank owned up to the insurance mis-selling.
Mr Shipton, who has been in the top job since February this year, said ASIC had focused on fixing the problem with customers instead of taking action against the bank.
“In some cases I clearly am of the view that we should have tried to and work towards running both remediation program and the enforcement investigation at the same time, in parallel,” he said.
But Mr Shipton insisted ASIC would be pursuing more legal action in the future when faced with banking misconduct.
“I want to make it crystal clear we will be undertaking more court-based actions,” he said.
“We will be more adventurous, as it were, in pushing points of law.
“We will be taking more — let’s call it risks, because we now have, through my direct engagement with the government, more funding to do exactly that.”
The commission also heard CommBank was concerned about being seen as “paying off” ASIC after the bank was let off the hook with a $300,000 community donation — which the regulator agreed with — instead of a fine over misleading CommInsure ads which were found to have breached the law.
“It was a mistake not to act quicker, swifter and earlier,” Mr Shipton said in response.
Ms Orr’s trademark, dogged questioning was on show yet again today, as she repeatedly insisted Mr Shipton answer her questions thoroughly during a number of tense exchanges with the witness.
The inquiry has ended without the Commissioner calling for extra time to examine more than the 27 distressed farmers it heard, out of more than 10,000 submissions it received.