APRA and ASIC have the legal power to sack bank heads, but they need willpower

by Dr. Andrew D. Schmulow

The Conversation, (2018), published electronically.

The chairwoman and chief executive of AMP have resigned after the company admitted to charging for advice never provided and lying to clients and regulators. But no banking CEOs have been toppled despite the Financial Services Royal Commission unearthing instances of fraud, bribery, impersonating customers, failures to report misconduct to regulators and other poor behaviour.

Similar conduct in the United States has resulted in bank executives and directors being forced to resign. That this is not happening in Australia shows how the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) aren’t using their full powers to take action on the banks’ bad behaviour.

APRA already has the power under the Banking Act to remove someone from a bank board and install its own nominee. The recently enacted Banking Executive Accountability Regime has given APRA more power to remove directors and install new ones.

So ASIC and APRA are not bedevilled by a lack of power, but by a lack of willpower.

This article first appeared at The Conversation. Also published at Shedconnect, Property Observer and ABC News.