The news comes after an audit of ASIC’s financial statements by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) found that total remuneration paid to both ASIC chair James Shipton and deputy chair Daniel Crennan QC may have exceeded limits set by Remuneration Tribunal Determinations due to relocation expenses incurred by the two men.
The concerns focused around Mr Shipton’s relocation expenses from the Unites States to Sydney, totalling nearly $100,000 (largely stemming from tax advice provided by accountancy giant KPMG), as well as nearly $70,000 of rental reimbursements paid to Mr Crennan when he relocated from Melbourne to Sydney in early 2019.
Mr Shipton “stepped aside” on Friday* while a review is undertaken into the matter, expecting that Mr Crennan would take over as acting head.
However, Mr Crennan has now announced that he has resigned from his role.
“I had been intending to retire from my position in July 2021,” Mr Crennan said in a statement.
“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.”
On Friday (23 October), the House of Representatives standing committee on economics’ review of financial regulators asked Mr Crennan why he had not stood down from his role given that chair James Shipton had stepped aside.
Mr Crennan responded: “The correspondence between the Auditor-General and the letter to the Treasurer [regarding the matter of relocation expense concerns] doesn’t make any assertions about my conduct or my involvement in the process.
“The offer of the provision of this rental assistance is in the letter. And there are no assertions within that portion or any of the letter against me and any conduct by me,” he stated.
In a statement released today (26 October), the deputy chair announced that he had now tendered his resignation to the Treasurer, effective immediately.
However, he reiterated that when ASIC agreed to pay his relocation package – which included a rental allowance – he was “told the payment of this allowance was consistent with ASIC policy”.
Mr Crennan continued: “In September 2020 and early October 2020, I was told of external advice about, and the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) present position concerning, the rental allowance being paid to me. I requested that ASIC cease paying me the rental allowance. I also offered and agreed to repay the rental allowance ASIC had paid to me.
“Following its audit of ASIC’s financial statements, the ANNO has recommended that an independent review be conducted into issues raised regarding relocation payments, including mine. That review will take some time.”
He concluded: “In order to ensure that ASIC’s important work is not disrupted, I will remain available to facilitate the orderly transfer of my work to my successor.
“I wish the new commissioner every future success as he or she continue the critical work that ASIC is assigned to undertake."
Mr Crennan said he was grateful to the Commonwealth government for giving him the opportunity to serve as an ASIC commissioner and thanked his fellow commissioners wishing them well for the work they do “on behalf of all Australians”.
Deputy chair Karen Chester is currently serving as acting chair of ASIC.
* This story was updated on 26/10/2020 to reflect that Mr Shipton has “stepped aside” while a review is undertaken, rather than officially resigned his post.