The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) today announced the disqualification of Ms Jane Mlikota (nee Parkinson) from acting as a responsible officer of a superannuation trustee, investment manager or custodian.
Ms Mlikota is a former trustee director of the failed Melbourne-based Colors Pty Ltd Superannuation Fund (the Fund), which lost in excess of $300,000.
APRA’s disqualification is based on the grounds that Ms Mlikota was a director of a trustee at a time when it was in serious contravention of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (the SIS Act) and (without any finding of dishonesty) that she failed the ‘fitness and propriety’ test required by the SIS Act.
The decision follows the earlier disqualifications of fellow former trustee directors, Mr Norman Zuppicich and Mr John Bayford, which (without any finding of dishonesty) were based on the view that these directors had each failed to exercise a reasonable degree of care and diligence in carrying out his trustee duties.
APRA found that the trustee had failed to ensure that the Fund complied with the in-house asset provisions of the SIS Act. These generally prohibit a fund investing more than 5 per cent of its assets in the employer-sponsor and are intended to prevent workers’ retirement benefits being held hostage to the fortunes of their employer-sponsor.
Ms Mlikota’s disqualification is subject to appeal. She has 21 days from the date of notice in which to lodge a request for internal review of the decision by APRA. If still dissatisfied with the outcome, an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal may be made.
The Acting Trustee of the Fund has applied to the Commonwealth Government for a grant, under provisions in the SIS Act which provide for financial assistance to be granted to cover losses suffered by a fund under certain circumstances, if that is judged to be in the public interest. The application is currently being considered by the Minister.
All members of the Fund were employees of Colors Pty Limited (now in liquidation) and its associate entity, Visual Narrative Pty Ltd.
APRA continues to investigate the affairs of the Fund.
APRA is the prudential regulator of the financial services industry including banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance and reinsurance companies, life insurance, friendly societies, and most members of the superannuation industry. It currently regulates $1.5 trillion in assets for 20 million Australians.