AustralianSuper faces claims of conflict of interest following investments in union-linked property trusts

AustralianSuper faces claims of conflict of interest following investments in union-linked property trusts
AustralianSuper faces claims of conflict of interest following investments in union-linked property trusts

A former AustralianSuper executive has accused the country's largest superannuation fund of pressuring him to direct investment into a union-linked property trust despite conflicts of interest.

The fund's former head of property Jack McGougan made the accusations in Federal Court action launched against AustralianSuper this week.

His lawyers are seeking damages of $2.17 million, based on $544,000 annual salary for his four years through to his intended retirement, as well as missed bonuses of 80 per cent of his salary and compensation for humiliation, pain and suffering. 

An AustralianSuper spokesman said in a statement to the Australian Financial Review that it denies the McGougan allegations, adding "AustralianSuper always invests in members' best interests".

It comes as the royal commission will shortly looks at super fund governance.

More than 30 super fund directors have been told that they must appear before the commission which will look at related-party dealings.

The two-week block of hearings on super funds in August comes after earlier sessions on consumer lending, financial advice, small business loans, farm finance and dealings with indigenous communities.

McGougan claims he was forced out of his job for opposing moves by chief investment officer Mark Delaney and director Brian Daley to invest in industry-fund controlled developer ISPT.

McGougan says that from 2012, that Delaney, the fund's deputy chief executive, and Daley, the AustralianSuper director and the capital stewardship officer for the Australian Council of Trade Unions, "pressured" him to invest in ISPT.

ISPT is an unlisted property fund and developer set up in 1994 by former ACTU assistant secretary Garry Weaven.

It was co-founded by AustralianSuper.

Its board includes current and former Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy officials.

It is alleged despite an alleged "standing conflict of interest declaration", neither Delany nor Daley absented themselves from AustralianSuper's investment committee decisions involving ISPT, according to court documents.

After McGougan raised concerns over governance issues at the investment committee, Delaney allegedly accused him of not being a "team player".

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Reits Australian Super

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