J.P. Morgan Australia non-executive chairman Robert Priestley has resigned from the boards of the Australian Securities Exchange and the Future Fund following the ACCC pursuing a criminal cartel conduct investigation.
Announcing his decision, Priestley said the ACCC banking matter may become a "potential distraction" for the ASX and other board members. It must be noted neither Priestley nor J.P. Morgan Australia have been charged by the ACCC.
"It is likely that this matter takes some time to resolve, and as there are limits to the information that can be discussed at this time, I think the right course of action in these circumstances is to step aside from the ASX board to allow the situation to be fully resolved. I look forward to the time when all of the facts and circumstances relevant to this matter are clarified," Priestley said.
On June 1, the competition regulator alleged a 2015 institutional placement by ANZ Bank saw the bank and two other parties (identified later in the day as Deutsche Bank and Citigroup Global) engage in criminal cartel conduct. About 31.5% of the total placement was taken up by the joint lead managers, ACCC said. J.P. Morgan is believed to be the third joint-lead manager on the case, according to other media reports.
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On June 5, charges were laid against ANZ, Citigroup Global Markets Australia, and Deutsche Bank. Six executives are slated to face court on July 3. No J.P. Morgan executives, including Priestley, were charged with criminal conduct.
ASX chairman Rick Holliday-Smith said: "Rob's decision to step down in these circumstances demonstrates his commitment to the highest standards of corporate governance. We understand the difficulty of his position, and appreciate that he has made a decision that puts ASX ahead of other considerations. Rob has been a valued member of the ASX board and we look forward to this matter being resolved."
Priestley has also stepped down from the Board of Guardians at the Future Fund, Australia's sovereign wealth fund.
His position on the ASX board came about when he stepped down from his J.P. Morgan chief executive role last year.
At that time he had held J.P. Morgan's top job in Australia for 15 years out of the total 23 years he spent with the investment bank.
His other roles included J.P. Morgan's chief executive for ASEAN region, and leading the global emerging markets and international fixed income divisions across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Priestly stayed on as a non-executive chair on J.P. Morgan's board. He also took up a non-executive directorship with the ASX - which he resigned from today.
About six months later, he joined the sovereign wealth fund's Board of Guardians in November 2017. Priestley was chosen to replace Steven Harker who had finished a five-year term.
Neither the ASX nor the Future Fund has announced plans for Priestley's replacements on their respective boards.