Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Hayne recommends criminal charges

The royal commission into banking, superannuation and financial services has recommended regulators consider criminal or civil action against 24 companies. While the commission’s final report, released on Monday, did not name which institutions had been referred, treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and NAB were among the referrals. Commissioner Kenneth Hayne urged regulators to take action against offending financial institutions, warning that “saying sorry and promising not to do it again has not prevented recurrence” of offences. “There can be no doubt that the primary responsibility for misconduct in the financial services industry lies with the entities concerned and those who managed and controlled those entities: their boards and senior management,” Hayne said in the report’s introduction.

The report’s 76 recommendations included an end to conflicted remuneration for financial advice, a default superannuation scheme for all workers, and a compensation scheme of last resort for people unfairly treated by financial institutions. In a statement, Frydenberg said the government was “taking action on all 76 recommendations”, and that “in doing so the community’s trust in our financial sector can and will be restored”. The Finance Sector Union was scathing of Hayne’s failure to condemn executive remuneration and bonus schemes, calling the report “a big fat nothing burger in respect to executive pay and bonuses”.

Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has pleaded for supporters to prevent his extradition to Bahrain as his hearing in a Thai court commences. Al-Araibi, who plays for Melbourne’s Pascoe Vale FC, said “please don’t send me back to Bahrain, they will torture me” as he was escorted past international media into a Bangkok courtroom. Diplomats from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and several European nations attended al-Araibi’s hearing on Monday, reflecting growing international pressure for his release. Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, Cameroon international Pierre Wabo and actor Anthony LaPaglia are among the high-profile figures to join the #SaveHakeem campaign. Al-Araibi will remain in custody until April 22.

Women’s rights activists have accused the Australian Border Force agents of collaborating with the Saudi government to forcibly extradite Saudi women attempting to seek asylum in Australia. The ABC’s Four Corners reported on Monday that ABF officials detained and refouled at least two female Saudi asylum seekers who arrived at Sydney airport in the past two years, and that ABF officials routinely questioned Saudi women travelling without a male guardian. An unnamed Saudi woman in Sydney told the ABC that her friend, who had flown to Sydney after escaping Saudi Arabia in 2017, never made it out of arrivals and disappeared shortly after. “Since that time, I never heard from her or what happened to her”, the woman said.

And crossbench MPs have rejected the federal government’s proposed medical review panel for refugees refused medical help in offshore detention. Speaking to the ABC’s Radio National on Monday, independent member for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps said prime minister Scott Morrison’s proposal to establish a panel of experts to advise the Department of Home Affairs on medical transfers was insufficient, as it was “not appropriate for a bureaucrat or a politician to be able to veto the treatment of a person who is critically ill when the doctors looking after them say they cannot treat the patient on-site”. Independent senator from South Australia,Tim Storer, noted that the government’s panel would “have no power to overturn decisions made by the department”, while former Australian Border Force chief Roman Quaedvlieg said “ministerial override, DHA oversight and ABF secrecy provisions [would] hobble it”.


“Qualitative pollster Tony Mitchelmore, of research company Visibility, says voters are also telling him Morrison’s pitch of a stronger economy isn’t squaring with their daily experiences. ‘People just say, “God, you’re out of touch – have you been to the shops lately?” ’ Mitchelmore says of the political rhetoric.”


“Pentecostalism is obsessed with the Devil to an extent that is heretical to mainstream Christianity. ‘Satan’ is not an abstract idea but a highly personal fallen angel who, through his ability to manipulate and direct nonbelievers, largely runs the ‘world’. To be baptised in the Spirit is to be personally conscripted into the struggle, intimately experienced in daily life, between the forces of good and ever-present evil.”


“‘What am I doing here? This is an absolute waste of time.’ This is what I jotted down in my notes 10 minutes into my first viewing of The Clock. Two hours later I was still there, content to let the parade of images tell me the time, one by one, well into the evening.”


“Australia’s corporate watchdog has ordered the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning arm to immediately stop charging its customers ongoing service fees, effectively making them work for free. This extraordinary step was taken just hours before the government releases the banking royal commission's final report.”


“Which is worse: financial institutions ‘preferring pursuit of profit to pursuit of any other purpose’ or the supposed regulator letting them? ... There’s a clear hint in the report that ASIC can’t continue in its present form. Even with its failures exposed, in Mr Hayne’s opinion, the watchpuppy isn’t up to fixing itself.”


“Come in, grab a table, and get a taste of Brazil. Say hi to us while you’re here. We’re always happy to talk with our customers. But whatever you do, don’t ask us how to pronounce any of the dishes on the menu. Because we have no idea.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.