Is ASIC really looking about the business interests of Australians or is it simply leaching money out of them?
Ever heard of a regulatory body which generates hundreds of millions a
year in surplus revenue? Look no further than ASIC which gouges
Australia’s big and small business alike and has handed over more than
$1.5 billion in surplus revenue to the Howard Government’s budgets
since 1996.

Crikey seems to receive a never ending stream of penalty notices and
fees from ASIC which prompted us to look into this and it appears the
government surplus is $1.55 billion over the eight years from 1995-96
to 2002-03 – an average windfall of $193 million a year.

In the handover year of 1995-96, the surplus was only $130 million but
you can trust the hypocritical Howard Government to slug their friends
in business because this surged to a record $232 million by 2002-03 –
an increase of 77 per cent which is well above nominal economic growth
of about 50 per cent over the same period.

This table demonstrated ASIC’s highway robbery:

Financial year 1995-1996 1996-1997 1997-1998 1998- 1999 1999-2000 2000-2001 2001-2002 2002-2003 Total
Total expenses ($m) 145 132 135 145 143 143 160 173 1,175
Gross Revenue ($m) 275 298 326 332 361 348 383 405 2,728

Revenue transferred to the Commonwealth is a gross figure. Page 81 of the
2002-03 annual report says, “ASIC collects and administers revenue under the
Corporations Act 2001 and prescribed fees set by the Corporations (Fees)
Regulations. The revenues from these fees are not available to ASIC and are
remitted to the Official Public Account”.

In response to this item Denise Brailey, president of the Real Estate Consumer Association wrote to us as follows:

Yes, yes, yes. We have been saying this for 5 years. ASIC is a do
nothing ineffectual, money generating, cash cow. The first time I
raised this point was at a seminar in Qld in 2000.

Look at all the search fees the Jenman Approved HBHS Consumer
Protection Fund has to pay to ASIC to investigate cases to assist
consumers, just for the privilege of doing ASIC’s job of chasing crooks.

Just look at the other Law Firms and Funders that have to pay for
endless searches to unravel complex criminal money-laundering
activities. These are activities which ASIC sits upon like Mother-Hen.

This is precisely what has prompted Henry Kaye victims to protest
outside ASIC offices in every state on Wednesday, to the amusement of
passers-by. The constabulary were bemused – some of their members are
the victims!

Henry Kaye registered 111 companies to set up his evil empire courtesy
of ASIC. He then ran on a rampage of $60 million in losses, gathering
victims in his wake, teaching “management of financial risk
strategies,” without the benefit of an AFS Licence.

We know that ASIC hands these licences out like smarties, yet they
could not be so bold as to give Henry Kaye a licence due to his
inability to prove he was a “fit and proper person.” So against their
own laws, ASIC permitted Henry to keep going four years after the first
complaint.

Does anyone view this as negligence? Yes, tens of thousands of
consumers, taken for a ride from the growth industry spawned by ASIC’s
indifference to crime.

What part of the word “fraud,” does ASIC not understand? Now the
Americans have landed, to spruik more victims and cash, without the
benefit of an AFS licence and ASIC decides to act “after the doors were
opened. Another 1500 people signed up two weeks ago in the Danko event.
All the promoters did, in order to suck people into their scams, was
use the magical words “government approved.”

Well it is “government approved” by default. That’s what Henry boasted
on stage and video. ASIC permits these spruiker scammers to open large
doors held at our most prestigious venues and take in the funds. Now
ASIC Queensland, are trying to close the doors after the spruiker
horse has bolted in three states. It’s our fastest rising growth
industry, careering out of any sensible regulatory control whilst ASIC
snoozed away.

BRW ran an article last week calling Chairman of ASIC, Jeffrey Lucy,
“The Enforcer.” I don’t think so. RECA sent letters to Lucy warning him
of the consequences to permit the Americans down here. Neil Jenman
pleaded on his website to do the same – close them down before they
open. ASIC has the powers and didn’t use them. Too lazy?

Crikey published several articles I wrote on this issue, in 2001.

ASIC boasts “69 prosecutions during the three years of Davey Knott’s
reign of error. That equates to 3 prosecutions per state per year. So,
we only have an average of three white-collar crooks per state per year?

Crikey pointed out last year that the crooks being rounded up were at the lower end of the scale. Yes indeed.

No wonder ASIC needed a “Rene” to save face.

I spoke with one of Ross Cameron’s advisors two weeks ago on this very
subject. He said: “the surplus funds go back to the states.” Really?
Can Crikey check that please? How much revenue is passed on to the
Offices of Fair Trading? All of it – the surplus cash?

That doesn’t negate ASIC’s deplorable track record the past five years,
where the biggest losses have occurred. Over $1 billion is missing from
consumers’ bank accounts under ASIC’s watchful eye. Consumers are
finding it difficult to see value for money.

They have been urged to place the equity in their homes, and their
superannuation into the hands of the very people being complained about
to ASIC – licensed and unlicensed.

Average hard working Mums and dads and retirees paid big bucks to learn
how to educate themselves about the strategies needed for financial
security and how to secure their retirement. They were spruiked from
within the walls of the ASIC building in Melbourne and ASIC had not a
clue what was going on.

Well RECA is now looking at setting up temporary self help desks
outside the major ASIC offices to empower consumers to look after their
own complaints. ASIC should be disbanded and become an electronic
search engine where searches are $2 each.

That would be considered good economic management would it not? The
good ship ASIC needs to take a Titanic ride to the bottom of the
corporate ocean floor, according to all the victims of these crimes.

The widely heralded “Twin Peaks” model has not only been a disaster
with APRA and ASIC being dubbed the “lazy sisters.” but there are now
calls for a “super” regulator. Isn’t that what Europe security chiefs
warned Australia would happen? Wasn’t one super agency, what we had
eight years ago?

Four ASIC chiefs jumped ship in the past four months along with many of
the seasoned investigative crew. Lucy said it has a 10% turnover – not
in the investigation units and the top end. It’s like being on a worst
nightmare cruise ship. You take a walk at night on the deck, look over
the side and golly gosh, you see the captain and bosun rowing away in a
dinghy.

Knott and Collier worked for APRA until HIH went down. One can be
forgiven for asking who has captured who and who is/has been “speaking
truth to power?”

Consumer Protection in Australia, resembles a monorail, trundling along
in a regulatory circle, charging consumer victims millions of dollars
in search fees to follow the complex structures of these empires of
evil, with the Financial Planning industry used as the consultation
process. ASIC has become a “do-it-yourself” crime solving department.

It is the FPA members whom we found to be the worst offenders, after we
begged in the streets for six years for funds to pay the search fees to
help the people!

A very BIG Royal Commission is urgently needed into this over sized useless monolith, renamed ASIC in wonderland.

Mr and Mrs Crikey and the magnificent Crikey Team have made my day!

I am sure you have just gained a readership of 100,000 aggrieved consumers.

Denise Brailey
President

Real Estate Consumer Association

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW