Regulators criticised over superannuation
Royal commission lawyers have questioned whether current regulators are up to the job of policing the $2.6 trillion superannuation sector and protecting Australians' retirement savings.
Barristers assisting the banking royal commission have also recommended a long list of possible misconduct findings against various players in the superannuation industry.
National Australia Bank and the Commonwealth Bank may have committed civil - and possibly criminal - offences, the commission has been told.
NAB was accused of having a disregard for superannuation members, regulators and for the law over charging fees for no service, in a closing submission released on Friday night.
Counsel assisting the commission highlighted the lack of a dedicated and active conduct regulator at the start of a two-week hearing into superannuation.
They strongly criticised both the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority in the closing submission.
The case studies at the hearing suggested APRA and ASIC's approach to regulation of superannuation entities is not sufficient to achieve specific or general deterrence, the submission said.
They said examples of ASIC's approach - over fees for no service and the way three big banks sold superannuation products - raised questions about whether it has struggled to act as an effective conduct regulator.
The royal commission heard CBA tried to convince the regulator to issue a media release rather than take stronger action over the sale of super products in bank branches.
Counsel assisting said it might be thought Australia's largest listed company's dealings with the regulator "suggests the collapse of ASIC's regulatory authority".
They said the lack of regulatory authority was reinforced when ASIC backed down from taking court action against ANZ over the branch sales, following a polite email from the bank's top lawyer.
"It may also send a message to the regulated population that ASIC lacks authority."
The barristers also suggested APRA's objective of ensuring financial system stability was not readily reconciled with being an effective conduct regulator.
They said the evidence suggested APRA was reluctant to commence court proceedings and take public enforcement action, adding its approach to dealing with the "intransigence" of wealth manager IOOF could not be considered to be effective.
Counsel assisting said NAB was not full and frank with ASIC about the amount of expected fees-for-no-service remediation.
ASIC is already investigating "suspected offending" by the NAB group over fees for no service.
ASIC and counsel assisting have accused the bank and its super trustees of failing to report significant breaches of their licence and obligations on time, which is a criminal offence.
The submission outlined possible misconduct findings against CBA, involving Colonial First State's failure to move customers to low-fee MySuper products and subsidiary Avanteos charging advice fees to dead customers' estates.
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