The corporate watchdog has launched legal action against Australia’s biggest superannuation fund for failing to consolidate the accounts of 90,000 members, costing the people affected $69 million.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission claims AustralianSuper failed to identify members who had multiple accounts and merge them for almost 10 years.
The fund then charged fees and insurance premiums on each account between July 2013 and March 2023, causing some members to pay multiple sets of the same costs.
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ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court said the fund’s failure to merge duplicate accounts could have “significant financial consequences … eroding their superannuation balance over time”.
The financial regulator claims AustralianSuper failed to “do all things necessary to ensure its financial services were provided efficiently, honestly and fairly” and did not act in the best interests of its members.
ASIC is seeking to fine and make other orders against the trustee once the legal proceedings begin.
AustralianSuper has almost three million members with a total $258 billion in assets.
In a public statement, it said it regrets its processes to identify and combine multiple accounts did not cover all instances.
“This should not have happened and we apologise unreservedly to members,” the fund said.
The fund first reported a potential failure to consolidate duplicate accounts to ASIC in 2022 and has since made moves to remedy the issue.
This problem is not exclusive to AustralianSuper.
ASIC has found more than three million people across the country had multiple superannuation accounts.
This generally happens when individuals change jobs and their employer creates a new super account on behalf of their new hire.
Australian Taxation Office data showed about half a million people had two or more accounts within the same fund.