ASIC blasted for “character assassination”

The manager of a financial planning firm has accused ASIC of permanently ruining people’s reputations via press release



ASIC and its “shadenfreudian” press releases have come under fire for destroying the reputations of those exposed.
In a recent blog post, Terry McCaster, responsible manager at Dover Financial, pointed out that ASIC’s naming and shaming of particular guilty parties solely occurs in the financial industry.
“Trial by press release does not happen in other professions. I have represented doctors in Medicare cases and Medicare does not put out press releases like these. I have watched solicitors get gaol time for trust account fraud and no one else knows,” he said.
“Convicted criminals have more privacy rights than advisers who fall foul of ASIC.”
The ASIC press release was “dripping with shadenfreudian intentions,” he said.
Schadenfreude is a German word adopted by the English language which is defined as the pleasure one derives from someone else’s misfortune.
McCaster labelled the practice as “character assassination” and questioned whether it should be something a fair-minded regulator should be doing at all.
“We only see one side of the story. The adviser has no right of reply. I have never seen a ‘My Response to ASIC’s Press Release’ press release published anywhere,” he said.
While he understood the deterrent aspect of the practice and why ASIC wanted to get these press releases out, he said he had greater sympathy for the “executed” advisers since the shame was permanent.
“Why can’t ASIC do it more fairly? More privately? Why does it have to be a public life sentence? That ASIC press release will still be there, a Google search away, in twenty years’ time.
“Retrain in a different profession? Bad luck, mate. It’s still there. Your potential new employer will Google you. It’s a professional life sentence. Daughter’s wedding day? Bad luck, mate. It’s still there. Her guests will Google you. It’s a public life sentence.  It’s an e-scar on your e-face.”
In an interview with Australian Broker, McCaster said it was important to distinguish between people who have done something that was criminal and others who had done something which may not have been perfect professionally.
“I think we need to be a bit more forgiving. There needs to be processes which don’t involve public shaming in cases like this.”
“Why do you have to drag the bastard through the kangaroo court of public opinion? Why can’t you say a ‘financial planner’ was banned for the following reasons? Why do you have to say who he is?”
The same concepts of carelessness versus criminality could apply in the field of mortgage broking, he said.
“If someone borrows money and they did it under false pretences for their own benefit, that’s criminal. That’s different. But if a mortgage broker was banned by ASIC because he failed to collect sufficient information from a client or some other matter which is not good but is not criminal, then I don’t think it should be a life sentence.”
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