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Superannuation watchdog barks, but won’t bite

Government Actuary Geoff Rashbrooke acknowledges he’s reached a stalemate in his attempt to stop superannuation funds being used for purposes other than retirement.

Sunday, July 1st 2001, 10:47PM

Government Actuary Geoff Rashbrooke acknowledges he’s reached a stalemate in his attempt to stop superannuation funds being used for purposes other than retirement.

But Rashbrooke warns he’s gathering information on five or six retail funds he believes might be breaking the law.

"We are accumulating ones which we feel are operating at the edge (of the law) or past it."

Rashbrooke, who oversees registered superannuation schemes, has objected to some financial products calling themselves super funds when retirement benefits form just a small proportion of their payouts.

Last year he proposed deregistering schemes that paid non-retirement benefits of more than 10% – a proposal the superannuation industry rejected outright.

Rashbrooke has since decided not to force the issue.

"It wasn’t something we could win. If we picked on somebody … there seemed to be natural justice problems because others might be doing the same thing."

He acknowledges that scheme promoters gain no tax or other tangible benefit from calling a product a super scheme, rather than a unit trust or managed fund.

But this might change depending on the outcome of the Government’s review of taxation, he says.

However, his biggest concern is that promoters are using the term to play on public fears and sell more products.

"The main thing is that they manage to ride a bit on the anxiety of people about retirement savings."

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