ASIC chair James Shipton has stood aside pending investigation after it emerged the regulator paid him more than $118,000 for tax advice related to his relocation from the United States to Australia to take the top job.
In an extraordinary appearance before a Parliamentary Committee on Friday, capping off a week of integrity scandals across the commonwealth, Shipton said he was “disappointed” the situation had occurred, but believes he acted appropriately.
It comes after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced Shipton and deputy chair Dan Crennan —who was also paid more than $69,000 for domestic relocation expenses in 2019 — would repay the money, following an Auditor-General finding the payments exceeded limits set by the commonwealth remuneration tribunal and did not follow procurement rules.
“ASIC acknowledges the processes supporting the approval of these relocation expenses were inadequate and, given the high standard ASIC holds itself to, it is disappointed that such situation has occurred,” Shipton said.
“..Whilst I believe that I have acted properly and appropriately in this matter, I hold myself to the highest possible standard.
“What matters is that I act with integrity and honour. That means I need to act in the best interests of ASIC and its vital purpose to build a fair, honest and efficient financial system for all Australians.”
The Auditor-General recommended an independent review into the debacle, and Shipton has accepted, saying the findings will assist it in “making appropriate changes to key policies”.
The remuneration revelations are just the latest integrity cloud to form over senior commonwealth officials this week, coming only a day after Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate was asked to stand aside after revealing Cartier watches worth $12,000 were given to senior managers as gifts.
Elsewhere, disturbing details about potential criminal conduct in the Leppington Triangle land purchase emerged this week, as senior public servants conceded procurement processes were seriously deficient.
ASIC disclosed the more than $188,000 in payments to Shipton and Crennan in its 2019-20 Annual Report, tabled on Friday.