Friday 19 February 2016

Hathway blasts ASIC statement on VU

Helm Advisory's Stephen Hathway
Photo: SiN Images
HELM Advisory founder Stephen Hathway was in a somewhat indignant state when SiN called last night to get the skinny on his recent brush with the compliance cops.

Around midday yesterday ASIC released a statement advising that Hathway had given the regulator a voluntary undertaking (VU) to implement firm-wide training at Helm Advisory, the firm Hathway founded in October last year after being axed from SV Partners.

Since SiN broke the story of his departure from SV in September, it's been unclear what caused the falling out between Hathway and SV managing director Terry Van Der Velde. But an unfavourable ASIC compliance review that could be laid at Hathway's feet might explain it.

When contacted, Hathway was more interested in attacking the wording of ASIC's press release, pointing out that despite the compliance failures identified taking place while he was at SV Partners, the ASIC statement makes no mention of his former firm.

"This is appalling because the firm (Helm Advisory) only started in October (2015) and the offences that've been represented in this report were all related to SV Partners," he said.

"I think it's a terrible misleading statement by ASIC but I can't do anything about it."

Hathway said ASIC's audit to test registered liquidator compliance with their reporting and lodging obligations took place almost a year before he left SV.

"It was a systematic approach ASIC took across SV Partners in NSW over about seven years," he said. He admitted they'd identified some errors, but said they were a very small proportion of total appointments. And he sheeted some of the blame back to his former home.

"The model with SV was that my name would be shared with other offices and other practitioners. I handed jobs up to Queensland and if they didn't diligently deal with the file - and in some cases they didn't - I scored a mark against myself."

SiN put a call through to van der Velde, who admitted some problems with jobs farmed out by Hathway but was quick to point out where the buck stops.

"There might've been one (problem) in the Gold Coast office but I don't necessarily agree with that. At the end of the day the administrator or appointee is the one who has to take responsibility even if other people exercise the roles on the job," he said.

Van der Velde said a lot of what ASIC had identified "were procedural issues and even though we have pretty robust systems in our business small things do fall through the cracks from time to time." However that didn't change who was ultimately responsible.

"At the end of the day it's my ticket on the line if I delegate responsibility and they are not executed properly," he said. He refused to be drawn on whether SV had been required to implement additional training or upgrades as a result of the ASIC audit.

The VU requires Hathway to implement firm-wide training of his professional staff at Helm and engage an independent expert to review three administrations.

Given Hathway said none of Helm's professional staff were involved in the compliance failures, ASIC's statement is clumsy, potentially damaging to the reputation of Helm's staff and contradictory.

ASIC Commissioner John Price is quoted lauding the extraction of the VU because: "Disclosure of this type provides transparency and information to all stakeholders," Price said.

"This promotes trust and confidence in the profession and ASIC's supervision responsibilities." Transparency? ASIC does not publish VUs. 

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