Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2016
Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos has announced that the
Australian Securities and Investments Commission
(ASIC) will convene a roundtable forum to explore
how to more effectively implement the nation's existing
corporate governance framework.
The announcement comes off the back of continued coverage and
press surrounding corporate governance issues facing high-profile
public interest company David Jones. Other regulatory bodies have
also been working towards strengthening adherence and enforcement
of corporate governance principles, with the Australian Securities
Exchange (ASX) recently commencing the
consultation process to revamp its Corporate Governance Principles
and Recommendations (see our recent article on that topic
Announced on February 18, the round table will include
representatives from corporate Australia, with the Australian
Shareholders' Association, Australasian Investor Relation
Association, Stockbrokers Association of Australia, ASX, Australian
Institute of Company Directors and the Governance Institute of
Australia already agreeing to participate. Issues which have
already been flagged to discuss include:
current market practice for director share trading and related
aspects of market integrity; and
ASIC findings regarding the handling of confidential
information by listed companies.
ASIC's announcement seems timely as high profile retailer
David Jones once again has been in the press in relation to its
corporate governance practices. David Jones chairman Peter Mason
and non-executive directors, Steve Vamos and Leigh Clapham were
accused of participating in insider trading in the second half of
2013. Mr. Vamos and Mr. Clapham purchased 32,500 shares in the
company the day after it had received a proposal from Myer of a
potential merger of the two retail heavyweights. Mr. Mason approved
the share trades, claiming they were not influenced by market
sensitive information as it was highly unlikely the merger proposal
would go ahead. In February this year, both the non-executive
directors (NED) as well as the Chairman
voluntarily agreed to step down despite ASIC concluding there was
not enough evidence for prosecution. David Jones has not begun the
process of finding replacements for the Chairman and the NEDs.
ASIC has indicated that both NEDs were cleared of any wrongdoing
on account of there being insufficient admissible evidence to
sustain a conviction.
The roundtable is scheduled for 14 March 2014 with ASIC to
report to the Assistant Treasurer by the end of April 2014.
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