ASIC jumps to defend its jet-setting chairman

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has revealed its chairman, Greg Medcraft, spent $246,409.99 on international travel in 2013 and has an equally busy travel schedule planned for this year.

ASIC released documents yesterday which revealed Medcraft’s taxpayer funded travel expenses, including travelling by business class for trips as head of the International Organization of Securities Commissions.

The total cost for Medcraft’s business-class flights, rail passes and transfers came to $98,465.19, hotel stays came to $19,101.16 and other travel costs equalled $10,474.39.

Staff travelling with him, also in business class, made up the remainder of the amount.

Last year, Medcraft spent at least 74 days travelling overseas for conferences and meetings, with the majority of the places visited in his capacity as chairman of the IOSCO.

He has no plans to ease up on travel, with trips booked in the next few months for Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Madrid.

The corporate regulator says it released Medcraft’s travel expenses in a bid to improve transparency.

The pre-emptive release of the expenditure by ASIC follows increased scrutiny of Medcraft’s travel expenses after a freedom of information request by Fairfax last year revealed the extent of the travel undertaken by Medcraft.

“Being chairman of IOSCO does mean that I have to travel from time to time, however, there are important benefits for Australian investors and businesses,” Medcraft said in a statement provided to SmartCompany this morning.

“Many of the issues facing Australia are global issues and need a global approach and my work in this role means we have an Australian helping shape the international financial agenda. That is, we have an Australian looking out for Australia.”

In a video posted on YouTube a month ago, the ASIC chairman acknowledged there had been criticism of ASIC and his role as the chair of IOSCO.

In the video, Medcraft defends his role leading IOSCO and says, “We want to make the global initiatives work for Australia, rather than against us.”

Medcraft came under the spotlight after a trip to St Petersburg in June last year coincided with ASIC’s scheduled appearance before a Senate Estimates hearing, so ASIC’s deputy chairman Peter Kell appeared instead.

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