The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) today announced the disqualification of Ms Juliette Zuppicich from acting as a responsible officer of a superannuation trustee, investment manager or custodian. Ms Zuppicich is a former trustee director of the failed Melbourne-based Colors Pty Ltd Superannuation Fund (the Fund), now in liquidation.
The decision follows the earlier disqualifications of fellow former trustee directors, Mr Norman Zuppicich, Mr John Bayford and Ms Jane Mlikota (nee Parkinson), 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.
Like the earlier disqualifications, APRA found that Ms Zuppicich 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 Act.
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 five 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 Zuppicich can request an internal review of APRA’s decision, within 21 days of the date of receiving notice of the decision (unless APRA allows longer) and has the right of appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal if still dissatisfied with the outcome.
Under provisions in the SIS Act, the Acting Trustee of the Fund has applied to the Commonwealth Government for a financial assistance grant to cover losses suffered by the Fund. The application is currently being considered by the Minister
All members of the Fund were employees of Colors Pty Limited and an associated 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.