Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Legal Profession Admission Board Annual Report 2015-16 deficiency : Is the Member for Cronulla, the AG NSW, a victim of regulatory capture by NSW Liberal donor Top Group?

by Ganesh Sahathevan

On 17 May 2016 the SMH reported:

The ad for the $2800 PwC - Top education internship on WeChat.

The ad for the $2800 PwC - Top education internship on WeChat.CREDIT:TOP EDUCATION

Top Education Institute, headquartered in the University of Sydney's biomedical sciences building in Sydney's inner west, circulated advertisements targeting Chinese international students on social media app WeChat last week, spruiking the opportunity to "work closely with PwC partners" in a program with a "1 per cent admission rate in Australia".

Top Education staff told prospective applicants the "internship" program would cost $2800, sparking anger from students concerned that the world's largest professional services firm was selling work placements to the highest bidder, rather than based on merit.

But the advertisements misrepresented what was actually a two-week training course, the companies now say.

Top Education's assistant principal of external engagement, Susan Cao, said PwC had approached Top Education to start a partnership.

"PwC provided the opportunity to us, we are providing the opportunity for our students," she said

"We don't want the journalist to report this," she said. "We already take off the advertisement, we want to change the words.

The advertisements reveal that for the more than $2000 price tag, students would have the opportunity to be exclusively placed for 10 days in PwC's Sydney offices, the Australian hub of the global company that turned over $35 billion in revenue last year.

The incident above should have triggered a regulatory response from the NSW Legal Profession Admission Board (LPAB) which supervises the activities of colleges granted licenses to issue LLB degrees which can qualify holders for admission to practise in NSW. Together with that licence comes special powers under the Uniform Admission Rules to issue what are in effect certificates of good conduct which the LPAB relies on to determine if applicants for admission to practise are fit and proper.

However the LPAB's 2015-2016 Annual Report does not disclose if and whether Top Group was subject of any sanction or investigation; neither does it disclose the reasons why there was not any sanction or investigation, despite the matter being reported widely. As shown above, the matter remains in the public domain.

The Attorney General NSW ,who is also the Member for Cronulla is responsible for tabling the LPAB Annual Reports in Parliament. While he does not sign-off on the accounts he does have a duty to ensure that the documents he tables are do not mislead Parliament. It is hard to imagine that he was not aware of the Top Group internship scandal, and its exclusion from the LPAB Annual Report.

As reported previously the Member for Cronulla, The AG's NSW Liberal Party received donations of $44,275 from TOP Education Group just before after TOP was granted the "first & only" license issued a private company to award law degrees.

It does appear as if the Member for Cronulla, The AG NSW, is a victim of regulatory capture. Consequently his LPAB and Department of Justice NSW annual reports need reviewing and amendment.

It as previously been shown by this writer that the  Legal Profession Admission Board Annual Report 2015-16 can be shown to be incomplete and deficient by comparison with  publicly available documents,   including documents of the Australian Academy Of Law.

The LPAB and the AG have yet to indicate what action they might be taking to address the issues raised above, and elsewhere by this writer. They maintain that being victims of threats and intimidation by this writer, there is no need to address any of the issues raised.


See also

AG NSW justifies exclusion of foreign regulatory risks from Dept of Justice annual reports on the basis that he was threatened, intimidated by the information:The matter of Top Group has implications for all regulators (including the NSW Law Soc)

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