The failure of the Opes Prime group and the daily disclosures of conflicts of interest, poor administration, indifferent regulation and the overriding air of collusive secrecy, is enough justification for an inquiry into the Australian financial markets. An inquiry that should scour from top to bottom.

ASIC and the ASX have been found wanting, in the case of Tricom, the failure of the Allco Finance Group, ABC Learning … the list runs on. Poor regulation and the abysmal disclosure of short selling and stock lending are the common denominators in all of this. The ASX is a listed company — enough of a conflict to merit some sort of immediate regulatory change — and some of its recent activities in the regulatory area should have brought a please explain from its regulator, ASIC, but the regulator seems to be asleep at the wheel.

If an Australian bank was to get into problems — think Bear Stearns or Northern Rock — or if we were to see a trading scandal like Societie Generale that threatened market stability, could we handle it?

At the moment, and looking at the way the powers that be have handled the $1.5 billion, 1200-client collapse of Opes Prime, you’d have to wonder.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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