Expenses scandal snares ASIC deputy
The corporate regulator's head of enforcement Daniel Crennan QC has resigned with immediate effect after a row over his $750-a-week rental allowance, and it could prove the first of several heads to roll in coming weeks.
As Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate remains under intense pressure over the purchase of Cartier watches for senior executives, ASIC's chairman James Shipton has also stood aside over his expenses, including more than $100,000 for personal tax advice.
It follows the Prime Minister announcing he made no apology for putting "a rocket" under public agencies over expenses as thousands of Australians remain out of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Crennan, 52, who stands at 198cm tall, is former pub bouncer turned lawyer and the son of former High Court judge Susan Crennan QC.
He previously sparked headlines early in his tenure after he announced the banks should "fear" the corporate regulator.
"It is a shift in how we operate and how we pursue our regulatory imperatives but our stance, coupled with the legislative reform to give us real penalties and real weapons, should be understood by the regulated population to mean that we should be feared and we should be taken very seriously,'' Mr Crennan said.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann confirmed at Senate estimates that Mr Crennan resigned on Monday morning, despite earlier advice that his relocation expenses were "consistent with ASIC policy".
It follows Mr Crennan's appointment as a Melbourne-based deputy commissioner and a subsequent request that he move to Sydney.
After being advised the relocation policy was consistent with ASIC policy, a subsequent audit found it was not consistent sparking a wider probe into the relocation allowance and expenses at the corporate watchdog.
In a statement, Mr Crennan said he had planned to exit the position next year and in the circumstances it was best to depart immediately.
"I had been intending to retire from my position in July 2021," he said. "However, in the current circumstances, I have decided that it is in the best interests of ASIC for me to resign now.
"I have therefore tendered my resignation to the Treasurer with immediate effect."
The lawyer has already agreed to voluntarily repay the money, which amounted to an estimated $70,000.
"ASIC agreed to pay me a relocation package which included a rental allowance," Mr Crennan said. "I was told the payment of this allowance was consistent with ASIC policy.
"In about September 2020 I was first told of external advice about, and the Australian National Audit Office's (ANAO) position concerning, the rental allowance being paid to me.
"I was then informed, despite previous assurances to the contrary, that the ASIC policy did not apply to me. Accordingly, I immediately requested that ASIC cease paying me the rental allowance. I also repaid the rental allowance ASIC had paid me."
Despite his resignation, Mr Crennan said he would fully co-operate with any probe into his rental allowance.
"I will, of course, fully co-operate and I anticipate it will affirm the matters set out above," he said.
"I am grateful to the Commonwealth Government for the opportunity to serve the community as an ASIC commissioner."
An independent probe into the corporate culture at Australia Post is underway amid reports the government-owned entity splurged tens of thousands of dollars on corporate boxes at sporting events across the country - including at Saturday's AFL Grand Final.
The Herald Sun reports Australia Post paid at least $100,000 a year for a box at the MCG to entertain clients which Ms Holgate - a Collingwood Football Club board member - also used the corporate box for Magpies games.
Originally published as Expenses scandal snares ASIC deputy