ASIC chair James Shipton has stepped aside from his role and deputy chair Daniel Crennan has resigned following reports from the government auditor the two received remuneration for relocation expenses that was above set limits for ASIC staff.
The overpayments were listed in the regulator’s 2019/20 annual report, which was tabled in Parliament late last week, and specifically addressed by Shipton before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics.
The ASIC report stated Shipton was paid $118,557 for expenses in relation to his relocation from the United States to take on the role of chair and Crennan was paid $69,621 in housing expenses related to his relocation from Melbourne to Sydney to take on the role of deputy chair. Both have agreed to repay the funds to ASIC and the Commonwealth, respectively.
Addressing the committee, Shipton said that following an audit of ASIC’s financial statements, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) noted the remuneration paid to both men may have exceeded the limits set by the Remuneration Tribunal, which oversees payments made to public servants.
Shipton said ASIC had acknowledged the ANAO’s findings and its recommendation that an independent review be conducted, and that he would stand aside while this took place.
“ASIC acknowledges the processes supporting the approval of these relocation expenses were inadequate and, given the high standard ASIC holds itself to, it is disappointed that such a situation has occurred,” he said.
“I have advised the Treasurer this afternoon that, in the circumstances, it is appropriate to stand aside pending the outcome of the review.”
He said he and Crennan had recused themselves from all relevant ASIC deliberations and his decision to stand aside for the time being was in the best interests of the regulator.
Crennan’s decision to resign was announced today via a statement in which he said he was planning to leave his position next year but would now do so immediately.
“I had been intending to retire from my position in July 2021. However, in the current circumstances, I have decided that it is in the best interests of ASIC for me to resign now.” he said.
He said at the time of his relocation in October 2018, ASIC had agreed to pay him a relocation package, which included a rental allowance that was consistent with ASIC policy, but in September 2020 he was informed of the ANAO’s view on the allowance.
“I requested that ASIC cease paying me the rental allowance. I also offered and agreed to repay the rental allowance ASIC had paid to me,” he said.
“Following its audit of ASIC’s financial statements, the ANAO has recommended that an independent review be conducted into issues raised regarding relocation payments, including mine. That review will take some time.
“In order to ensure that ASIC’s important work is not disrupted, I will remain available to facilitate the orderly transfer of work to my successor.”