Audit report reveals serious APRA action

The degree to which the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has been carrying out serious enforcement actions against superannuation funds has been revealed by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audit.

The audit documentation, which mostly endorsed APRA's performance, revealed that the regulator's Enforcement Steering Group monitored significant enforcement actions against four entities in the period between 1 July, 2013 and March this year, receiving monthly updates on the entities.

What is more, the ANAO report revealed that some of the superannuation funds in question had been the subject of enforcement action over a long period of time.

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It noted, "some of these entities have been subject to enforcement action for a number of years as implementation of actions, such as court actions, can be lengthy and complex".

The audit report said APRA initiated enforcement action against one of these entities in 2001, another in 2007, the third in 2009 and the fourth in 2014.

The report noted that APRA's enforcement response in relation to these entities had varied according to their circumstances, including: removing and replacing trustees; enforceable undertakings; court action; and advising the Minister on ‘Part 23' financial assistance applications.

"APRA's Enforcement Steering Group has undertaken a review of its management of one of the four entities — 14 years after the entity was first subject to enforcement action," it said.

The ANAO suggested that reviews of APRA's management of these types of entities, potentially at various points including before, during and at the conclusion of enforcement action, "would assist APRA to identify areas for improvement in its supervision approach".

"In particular, the circumstances relevant to the most recently identified entity should be reviewed by APRA to determine whether its supervision approach, training and guidance material, and/or guidance for entities, needs to be improved," the audit report said.

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