Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services releases interim report.
The SR Group, along with millions of other Australians, have eagerly awaited the report by Commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC, and expect to see blistering criticism of a number of major financial institutions and financial services providers. We also expect, and certainly hope for, the recommendation of new legislation and safeguards to prevent the recurrence of the misconduct highlighted in the Commission. Reading the Interim Report it is no surprise this will be costing the banks billions of dollars in rectifying their history of bad behaviour. Here's a look at what the figures could potentially be.
In 2017, Australian’s lost A$31.3 million to investment fraud schemes, per the May 2018 report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). This figure is almost certainly an under-representation on the total amount lost, as investment fraud is one of Australia’s least reported crimes, mostly due to shame or embarrassment of the victims. But don’t be embarrassed, investment frauds are becoming more sophisticated and harder to recognise, and with over 200,000 reports of scams last year, you are certainly not alone.
The royal commission will spend the next two weeks hearing evidence about misconduct and conduct falling below community expectations within Australia’s superannuation sector. We are representing many people that have been mislead and their nest egg was not what they expected for retirement. Reform is needed especially with our ageing population.
Between managing company finances, meeting taxation requirements and keeping your staff paid, as well as running a profitable and competitive business, managing a small business can certainly be a big job. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of the business and neglect your overarching responsibilities, but we must ensure we don’t fall into this trap, as this often leads to a downward spiral which can be impossible to recover from. Managing your cash flow properly will go a long way to helping you stay on top of the ongoing taxation and employee obligations in your capacity as director. As an accountant, you should be communicating regularly and clearly with your clients to ensure they fully understand their cash flow position and cash forecast for the next few months.
Mali De Castro
It is very apparent that the Franchising Code of Conduct is blatantly obsolete, and franchisees are the ones suffering. Many franchisees are trapped in suffocating and unprofitable franchise agreements, turning their dream business opportunity into a nightmare. We represent a number of franchisee’s in their fight against subpar franchisors and their unfair business models. If you are suffering due to your franchise agreement or your franchise conditions, we can assist.
Renewed calls for a last resort compensation scheme to cover customers when their adviser's firm ceases to exist
SR Group is standing firmly with Professor Ramsay's review for the federal government recommending the establishment of a compensation scheme of last resort for victims of poor financial advice. With the Royal commission dedicating public hearings to financial advice and Dover showcased it is an area needing the most immediate attention of last resort compensation. Time for reform.
The Federal Government has recently announced the introduction of new legislation, targeted at incentivising employers to come forward and attend to unpaid superannuation obligations.
The Government has introduced a 12-month amnesty period, allowing employers to come forward and attend to any historical superannuation guarantee (SG) entitlements outstanding, without the usual penalties and charges. This one-off scheme is designed to encourage employers to attend to their SG requirements in a timely manner. To access the amnesty, outstanding SG entitlements must be paid by employers in full, including all accrued nominal interest.
Mali De Castro
A WA businesswoman under investigation for masterminding a suspected $180 million “Ponzi” scheme, in which Malaysian and Singaporean investors were courted to invest in Pilbara property, has been permanently banned from providing financial services.
Australia’s corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), has found Veronica Macpherson engaged in “misleading” and “deceptive” conduct while promoting the Newman Estate Project in Western Australia’s Pilbara to overseas investors.
In a letter to Malcolm Turnbull last week Bill Shorten has suggested an extension of the inquiry, an apology and compensation scheme were the “least the government can do” in the future. SR Group sees this as a step forward in advocating for reform in the financial sector.
The Federal Court has clarified the scope of the releases that may be agreed by a lead applicant in a class action. It has stated very clearly that under the legislation governing class actions, the release can only relate to the claim the class action. The lead application has no power to grant a release in relation to things beyond the claim in the class action.
The issue arose in Dillon v RBS Group (Australia) Pty Limited (No 2)  FCA 395. Mrs Dillon sued RBS Group in relation to losses sustained by her and others in relation to exotic financial products known as ‘instalment warrants’. The case settled and as is typical in cases of this kind, RBS Group required each group member to sign a lengthy document containing, among other things, a release of RBS from any further liability by all group members in relation to issues raised in the proceedings.
The necessity of requiring group members to sign such a document prompted Lee J to consider the “important points of principle” about the scope of the proposed releases. It is an important point because defendants often ask for a release of all liability, whether or not connected with the issues in the case. A release of all liability would preclude group members from pursuing other claims they might have against a particular defendant. Lee J held that a release that went beyond the claim in the class action could not be maintained.
This decision has significant consequences. In the Great Southern litigation, a release was contained in the Deed of Settlement that clearly went beyond the scope of the class action. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, in the course of its recovery action, has relied on that release to assert that borrowers have no defences to the bank’s demands for payment.
Lee J’s decision makes it plain that this is not correct and that the scope of any release must be construed in line with the content of the claim in the class action.
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