Catholic Super has apologised to its members for “instances where some of our policies and procedures were not properly followed or enforced” following news of alleged breaches of conflict of interest rules arising through the Banking Royal Commission last Wednesday.
“During the preparation of documents for the Royal Commission, we became aware of instances where some of our policies and procedures were not properly followed or enforced,” said the super fund in a statement posted on its website.
“We identified behaviour by a staff member in relation to conflict of interest and credit card use that was entirely out of step with the policies and values of the fund.
“That individual has been placed on leave pending a full investigation.”
Danny Casey, chair of Catholic Super, told The Catholic Weekly that an external, independent investigation is now underway.
“As soon as the issues were identified we took the strongest possible corrective action,” he said.
“I’m sorry it happened and I give my commitment to members that we will make any changes necessary to strengthen our governance.”
The Commission heard that Catholic Super general manager of investor relations Rob Clancy failed to disclose that businesses associated with his brother Paul and wife Jennifer Kernahan received large marketing contracts.
Mr Clancy’s alleged breaches are the biggest single-person conflict of interest issue to be raised so far during the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
Catholic Super board director Peter Haysey told the Commission that Mr Clancy only revealed the full extent of his conflicts last month and that he insisted Mr Clancy put them on the conflicts register.
“We have launched an independent external review by PwC, one of the big four international accounting and advisory firms, to understand how and why those policy breaches occurred, and what needs to be done to ensure they cannot be repeated,” reads the website statement.
“The review will assess the awarding of contracts to Australian Family for the provision of research, consulting advice, advertising, brand development, design management, and the Australian Early Education and Care Awards.”
The existence of two Catholic superannuation funds has added to the confusion of many Catholics.
There are two Catholic superannuation providers with very similar names.
One is Catholic Superannuation Fund (Catholic Super) which is at the centre of the allegations.
The other is Australian Catholic Superannuation & Retirement Fund.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that the website for Australian Catholic Superannuation & Retirement Fund is catholicsuper.com.au.
Mr Haysey told the Commission that Catholic Super would pursue a merger only if they believed this was in the best interests of members.
Mr Casey said he wanted to reassure members that “Catholic Super continues to be one of the best performing super funds in the nation and the top performing Catholic fund.
“We recognise that good governance is just as important to our members as financial performance, and are committed to delivering on both fronts.”