Corporate watchdog to investigate Telstra sell-down

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Corporate watchdog to investigate Telstra sell-down

Was the Future Fund "tipped off" on Telstra separation plans?

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will investigate whether the Future Fund was "tipped off" on the proposed separation of Telstra by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

The Future Fund, which dumped $2.4 billion Telstra shares just weeks before Stephen Conroy announced the proposed separation of Telstra, will be investigated by the corporate watchdog ASIC after Family First Senator Steve Fielding successfully moved for an inquiry in the Senate as to why the fund had sold a "huge chunk" of its stake in the telco.

The commission will examine the disposal of all Telstra shares in the past 12 months and report back to the Senate by November 16, Senator Fielding said.

“I don’t know if the Future Fund had any unfair advance notice or not, but there are certainly quite a few people out there who are sceptical," Fielding said.

He said that "mum and dad investors" had the right to know if the Future Fund had an "unfair advantage" beyond knowledge that was already in the public domain.

“This inquiry is only fair to make sure all parties involved are squeaky clean and there was no funny business involved," Fielding said.

On October 20, Senator Fielding said he had "concerns that the 1.3 million mums and dads who invested in Telstra in good faith may have been hung out to dry".

On ABC's Lateline a month earlier, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said he "knew nothing" about Future Fund chairman David Murray's plans to decide to move from a 15 percent to 10 percent stake in Telstra.

"David Murray and I have had no conversations at any stage about the Government's plans to move in this direction," Conroy said at the time.

He added that the ASX and ASIC were "welcome to look at anything they want to around the basis of David Murray's decision and the basis of the Government's announcements".

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