The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) is set to receive its new chairman. James Shipton was appointed to the top job in October 2017 and is scheduled to begin the new position this February.
Mr Shipton was in in competition for the candidacy with a Credit Suisse executive called John O’Sullivan, however O’Sullivan withdrew from the candidacy after Labor vetoed his appointment (their motives for this action may form an investigative story in its own right).
What makes James Shipton an interesting choice is his direct ties to Goldman Sachs. Shipton was managing director of the Goldman Sach’s Asian Executive Office, and then head of Government and Regulatory Affairs for Asia Pacific.
It appears that the tentacles of the vampire squid that is Goldman Sachs extend deep into the Australian establishment. Our current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is also a Goldman Sachs alumni, being Managing Director of Goldman Sachs Australia from 1997 to 2001.
Ultimately ASIC’s mandate is to protect consumers and regulate the financial markets and investment products sold within. Having someone with a pedigree of investment banking may grant them the required knowledge of the markets they regulate, but their ties to the banking institutions which profit from them presents a clear conflict of interest. Especially when regulating markets to protect consumers can come at a direct loss for the investment banks.
Whether James Shipton acts in the interests of everyday Australians or whether he serves to benefit the international monetary power is yet to be seen. By his fruits we shall know him when he begins in February.