AustralianSuper and Cbus Super have been probed by a Parliamentary committee on whether the superannuation funds would take action into the allegations that IFM Investors were ‘dudding contractors of full entitlements’.
Both funds were major investors in the investment manager that placed its contractor that it half-owned, Tandem Corp, into administration on Wednesday.
Liberal backbencher, Tim Wilson, asked the two funds how they felt about the reports and if it were sure what course of action they would take.
Both funds said they had made preliminary enquiries but had not heard back.
AustralianSuper chief executive, Ian Silk, said: “Let’s assume the premise of the story is correct for this conversation – the point about the AustralianSuper board and organisation is that we’re concerned about any improper practices that occur in an organisations we’re associated with whether we’re the super fund or indeed an investor albeit indirectly in this case here.
“AustralianSuper has adopted a set of asset owner principles. It sets out a range of factors we expect to see in organisations that we invest in directly and that invest our capital. We expect all organisations we deal with to follow the principles and they in this context are on appropriate practices being employed by organisations in relation to labour relations.
“We can only await the details and I will not reach a judgement from one brief media report before forming a response.”
Silk noted that he took issue with the word ‘dudding’ and that it was too early to know whether what happened constituted as ‘dudding’.
“If it turns out in any instance, that investment manager was investing in an organisation that was ripping off workers then we would seek to engage with that investment manager with a view to then have influence on that investee company to lift their labour relations practices such that appropriate wages and conditions are paid and utilised in that organisation,” he said.
Cbus chief executive, Justin Arter, agreed with Silk and said at this current stage the issue was still a hypothetical and that the fund would await facts.
Wilson also asked whether the two CEOs were aware that IFM had paid individual fund managers bonuses of up to $12 million and $36 million and if they were to enquire as to why their members’ funds went to pay these bonuses.
Both said they were not aware and said they would discuss the matter with IFM.