Finance boss collapses on stand at bank royal commission
A WITNESS has collapsed in the stand at the banking royal commission after being accused of lying.
Dover Financial Services sole owner Terry McMaster had been giving evidence to the commission for more than two hours when he began to experience problems.
Commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC immediately demanded he receive help and triple-zero be called before clearing the hearing room.
Mr McMaster was tended to inside the hearing room and then was stretchered out of the court room.
He was conscious when he was put inside an ambulance outside the Federal Court.
The financial services boss was having a heated exchange with lawyers when he began breathing heavily.
Moments before he collapsed, Commissioner Hayne suggested Mr McMaster's Dover Client Protection Policy could have breached the Corporations Act.
Before the Commissioner's warning, counsellor assisting the royal commission Mark Costello had made Mr McMaster agree the polcy was "Orwellian" in its nature.
"I put it to you, it is Orwellian to describe this as a client protection policy," Mr Costello said.
"I agree with that and of course this has been changed," he replied.
According to The Australian, one onlooker said Mr McMaster turned "white as a sheet" when counsellors suggested the policy was poor financial advice.
Mr Costello had told the financial services boss that the policy was "completely consistent with a culture where client complaints are to be fought at all cost."
The policy in question that Mr McMaster was being grilled about had been developed by the company so it could completely avoid liability for any mistakes or misdeeds made by their financial planner.
When counsellors asked Mr McMaster if his company's attitude was to seek the highest level of protection from any liability, the financial services boss said "yes".
"Does it then follow that the document is itself misleading or deceptive? If it were misleading or deceptive it might draw attention to relevant provision of the ASIC Act," commissioner Hayne said, after interrupting the proceedings.
The court proceedings also showed that Dover was the only large financial advice licensee in Australia that declined responding to the royal commission's request for information about misconduct.
The Melbourne business is the tenth largest licensee in the country.
When Mr Costello told the financial boss the way he described Dover's policy was "simply untrue", Mr McmMaster disagreed.
"In that rejection, I've certainly understood and regretted the use of the word 'protection'. That's obviously been changed," he said.
Mr Costello was asking further questions when he noticed Mr McMaster was in difficulty and asked for the hearing to be stopped.
Mr McMaster's collapse comes in the second week of the banking royal commission.
Earlier today, financial planner Sam Henderson was forced to take the stand despite attempting to get out of the grilling through his celebrity "financial guru" status.
Mr Henderson claimed his participation could damage his reputation but the inquiry went ahead regardless where he was grilled about advice that would have cost a Fair Work commissioner $500,000 in superannuation.
The commission heard Mr Henderson - who makes regular media appearances - asked the Financial Planning Association to keep Donna McKenna's complaint confidential because of his media presence.
The FPA agreed not to publish his name but its conduct review commission rejected the proposed sanctions and suggested Mr Henderson be banned from any media appearances for a year.
- With Wires