Westpac, one of the most corrupt large corporations in the country, has aggressively recruited prosecutors, lawyers and investigators from high-ranking corporate regulators, raising concerns that the practice will further stifle its effectiveness.
Westpac now has at least ten former senior officials of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) in its ranks, including former ASIC chief prosecutor, former chief of staff to ASIC President Greg Medcraft , a former ASIC forensic financial investigator and a chain of other former ASIC litigation and enforcement lawyers.
The Westpac positions of Group Head of Regulatory Relations; Executive Director, Regulatory Relations; Manager, Operational Risks and Financial Markets Compliance; Senior Director, Consumption Incident Compliance; and Head of Strategy (Customer Remediation) are all held by former senior ASIC executives.
ASIC’s longtime chief prosecutor Cameron Walter joined Westpac in December as executive director of regulatory relations.
In June of last year, Westpac appointed Irfan Malik to ASIC as a Financial Investigator for the ASIC Forensic Accounting team.
Malik is now Senior Manager of Westpac, Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence.
Westpac also now employs Amber Rowland, who previously spent four years at ASIC, first as a Senior Counsel and then as Chief of Staff to then-ASIC President Greg Medcraft.
Rowland’s role as Chief of Staff included providing “targeted advice to the President”, providing “strategy development inputs”, preparing “high level briefings and speeches” and providing “strategy across the organization,” according to her LinkedIn social media biography.
The former ASIC executive, who started at Westpac immediately after leaving the corporate regulator, is currently responsible for strategy and customer experience at Westpac.
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Former ASIC senior executives now at Westpac include Anita Curatolo, who, just prior to joining the bank, spent nine years at ASIC as Senior Counsel, Enforcement; David Quinn, who was previously both a senior ASIC investigator and a lawyer for the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions; and Lidia Agioski, formerly Regulatory Enforcement Officer within ASIC Market Integrity Enforcement and now Head of Operational Risk and Financial Markets Compliance at Westpac.
It appears Westpac is looking to bolster its regulatory arsenal even further.
On Sunday, the bank began posting a post titled Executive Manager, Regulatory Relationships – ASIC.
The ad says:
It is completely legal for former ASIC employees, or employees of other government regulators, to work for the private sector.
But the scale of Westpac’s poaching of key ASIC figures raises eyebrows.
Notably because Westpac is one of the most corrupt large corporations in the country, having been subject to more regulatory action than almost any other company in the past five years.
In October, he was fined $ 1.3 billion – the largest civil sanction in Australian history – for breaking anti-money laundering laws thousands of times and facilitating the rape of children.
He is currently facing major insider trading action and has been forced to pay clients hundreds of millions for a range of illegal activities, including overcharging credit cards and billing clients for financial advice who were never provided.
ASIC takes no action in Westpac scandal
Despite being aware of the Westpac Superannuation Scam scandal, ASIC has taken no action resulting in the loss of billions of super funds.
Westpac’s swelling ranks with former senior ASIC officials comes as ASIC comes under increasing pressure to take substantive action against Westpac and its wholly-owned subsidiary BT over the ongoing grabbing of near one million Westpac-BT retirement accounts.
As The Klaxon revealed, Westpac and BT squeezed more than $ 8 billion from pension clients in the decade to 2018.
The Klaxon officially alerted ASIC to the scandal in November last year, but it appears the regulator has taken little to no action.
This is despite the fact that Westpac-BT gouging is underway and collectively costing Westpac-BT Superannuation members millions of dollars every day.
As previously noted, the person at ASIC responsible for taking action is Jane Eccleston, who was previously in-house counsel at Westpac.
ASIC declined to comment when asked if it had taken steps to mitigate this potential conflict of interest.
Eccleston is currently the Senior Executive Director of the ASIC Investment and Superannuation Manager Team, which is “responsible for the oversight by ASIC of Superannuation, Managed Funds and Custodians.” , states his biography.
She was Corporate Counsel at Westpac from December 1993 to October 1996.
Despite considerable time, governance experts said the circumstances surrounding the Westpac-BT super gouging meant it was on ASIC to be even more transparent and vigilant than would normally be required.
This was to ensure that there was no conflict of interest, whether “real or perceived”.
Research on the social media site LinkedIn revealed that Westpac has been very active in recruiting the best ASIC law enforcement officials.
Westpac declined to comment when approached by The Klaxon.
According to observers, the appointment in December of ASIC’s chief prosecutor, Cameron Walter, as senior executive director of Westpac in charge of “regulatory relations”.
Pension organization reports victory despite Westpac scams
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According to his biography, Walter had worked for ASIC for a total of 16 years before taking up the post of Westpac, including as National Senior Prosecutor, Senior Prosecutor, Senior Counsel and Head of the Law Enforcement Team. ‘ASIC.
Walter had also served as a federal prosecutor to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in 2011 and 2012, according to his biography.
There he had been tasked with prosecuting various areas, including “Commonwealth fraud, financial crime. [and] money laundering ‘.
The head of regulatory relations for the Westpac group is Felicity Minzlaff, who joined Westpac in July 2016.
Minzlaff joined Westpac directly from ASIC where she had been Senior Counsel in “Companies and Corporate Governance Enforcement”.
Previously, Minzlaff had been responsible for “regulatory investigations” at ASIC where she was a lawyer, enforcement (market integrity and business and corporate governance), according to her bio.
The successful candidate in Westpac’s announcement for Executive Manager, Regulatory Relationships – ASIC will report to Minzlaff.
Westpac Senior Manager David Quinn, who specializes in “financial crime, compliance and conduct” at the bank (he also worked as a lawyer and investigator at ASIC for six years and spent more than five years with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions) was also an AFP lawyer, according to his biography.
Anita Curatolo’s biography indicates that she is “very experienced in regulatory investigations / affairs and litigation”, having joined Westpac in June 2015 as a lawyer, regulatory investigations and litigation.
Curatolo is currently “responsible for the legal side – AUSTRAC counts,” according to his bio.
It was AUSTRAC, the country’s “financial intelligence unit”, that took action against Westpac under anti-money laundering laws, leading to its record fine of $ 1.3 billion.
According to his biography, at ASIC, Curatolo “has provided legal advice to ASIC and conducted litigation on behalf of ASIC regarding violations of company law.”
Westpac and ASX silent as BT snatch more than 1 billion customers
Westpac has still not answered questions about the extent of its lack of customers through its BT retirement entity, writes Anthony Klan.
Lawyer Alison Haines is also in Westpac.
Haynes has been Senior Manager, Consumer Incidents Compliance at Westpac since February last year and prior to that, Westpac Executive Manager, Whistleblower Governance.
According to her biography, Haynes had been an attorney at ASIC from 2000 to 2003, where she was “a decision maker under the Corporations Act for general requests for exemption from the Corporations Act”.
Westpac also appears to have made temporary use of the old ASIC muscle.
Attorney Rachele Troup, a litigation and investigations partner at the law firm Allens, has been working, according to her biography, as a “seconded” to Westpac since April last year.
On Tuesday, Troup’s position at Westpac was as a lawyer, Group Legal Financial Crime (seconded), full-time.
Troup, an “experienced lawyer with a proven track record in financial services regulation,” had been an ASIC lawyer on its financial services enforcement team from February 2015 to September 2018, according to her bio.
Sean Polivnick, Senior Manager, Entity Reporting and Governance Risk at BT, joined Westpac as Risk and Compliance Manager in January 2016.
Between 2007 and 2014, he was a financial services attorney on ASIC’s investment and pension manager team, according to his bio.
Also at Westpac is Kate Fowler, who has worked for the bank since January as Head of Business Assist.
Between August last year and January, Fowler worked full-time at ASIC, where she worked on “secondment” from the Australian Taxation Office, her organic states.
We asked ASIC if it was concerned that so many of its older workers are being snapped up by Westpac.
The regulator declined to comment.
Anthony Klan is an investigative journalist and editor of The Klaxon. You can follow him on Twitter @Anthony_Klan.