The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has confirmed that its up to the discretion of superannuation funds to decide if an item is an expense or investment.
This was in answer to a question on notice from Senator Andrew Bragg regarding how APRA treated money that came into the super system, as it pertained to super fund investment in publication The New Daily.
Wayne Byres, APRA chair, said: “In terms of your question of the treatment APRA is applying to particular money that has come through the compulsory super system and whether it is an expense or an investment, that is ultimately a matter for each trustee board to determine and will depend on the specific circumstances and facts of the situation under consideration.
“As we have previously noted, the significantly expanded and more granular reporting requirements as a result of APRA’s Superannuation Data Transformation project will provide much greater visibility of different types and amounts of expenses.
“This will enable APRA to identify any apparent areas of concern and ensure they are appropriately addressed.”
Byres said APRA engaged with several superannuation fund trustees on a number of occasions over the last 12 months to understand and assess the arrangements associated with The New Daily.
“The reference to superannuation funds treating their shareholdings in The New Daily as an investment or expense refers to the original ownership structure of The New Daily when it was established in 2013 by five superannuation funds and Industry Super Holdings (ISH),” Byres said.
“Currently, ISH owns The New Daily. Superannuation funds ceased to have any direct ownership of The New Daily in 2016 and ISH is the current investment owned by the super funds.
“ISH is not regulated by APRA. APRA requires that superannuation fund investments in ISH, as with any investment, are managed in accordance with their investment management strategy, and their obligations under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993.”
Bragg had previously said it was questionable for money that was collected under a compulsory system to be used in this respect and asked if APRA considered it appropriate, which APRA said it was not in a position to judge.
“If you look at the content on this platform, it’s political propaganda which sits there and smears people, it is not an independent media outlet… so it can’t possibly be a normal investment,” Bragg said.