On 22 October 2020 I received correspondence from the Auditor-General for Australia bringing to my attention matters that he identified while conducting an audit of ASIC’s annual financial statements.
Specifically, the Auditor-General has indicated that during the 2019-20 financial statements audit of ASIC, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) identified payments made on behalf of the ASIC Chair, Mr James Shipton, relating to taxation advice and Deputy Chair, Mr Dan Crennan QC, relating to housing expenses that he considered may exceed the limits set in the Remuneration Determination made by the Remuneration Tribunal and that there were also identified instances where the Commonwealth Procurement Rules were not followed.
As made clear in ASIC’s 2019-20 Annual Report, tabled today, both the ASIC Chair and Deputy Chair have agreed to repay these amounts.
In response to the Auditor-General’s findings, the ANAO has recommended to ASIC that:
- ASIC undertake a review of the processes supporting the approval of remuneration and benefits paid to Executive Office holders, including the trigger points for seeking advice should amounts outside of the Remuneration Determination be considered for approval; and
- A review be undertaken of the procurement processes around payments made for the taxation advice paid on behalf of the Chair to determine those internal controls that need to be either reinforced with relevant staff or redesigned to ensure effective implementation.
As the matters identified by the Auditor-General relate to the Accountable Authority of ASIC, I have asked the Treasury to undertake an independent review into the findings of the ANAO financial statements audit. Following the review, Treasury will advise me on the findings of the review and any further course of action that may be appropriate.
I have written to ASIC and the Auditor-General confirming this course of action.
The independent review will be undertaken by Dr Vivienne Thom and is expected to be completed with the full cooperation of ASIC by the end of the year.