Case Study on the Irrelevance of Best Practices in Corporate Governance

12 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2007

See all articles by Shann Turnbull

Shann Turnbull

International Institute for Self-Governance; Sustainable Money Working Group; New Garden City Alliance

Date Written: March 2007


A case study is presented on the irrelevance of corporate governance "best practices" in avoiding: major financial losses, identifying fraud, avoiding interventions by a regulator and the loss of reputation. As a result of a junior whistle blower the National Australia Bank (NAB) announced losses in 2004 from foreign exchange fraud. In 2001 the bank reported the largest loss in Australian corporate history from a 1998 US investment without any officer being held accountable. A Board member whistle blower in 2004 resulted in the staged removal of all directors and the Auditor as a result of the 2004 loss that was only one tenth of 2001 loss. As the securities of the bank were traded in the US, a "financial expert" was appointed to the board in 2003 to meet the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The bank otherwise conformed to the Australian Stock Exchange Corporate Governance Principles of "best practices". It standards of corporate governance were ranked equal first in a 2002 University survey of the largest 250 Australian listed companies. The survey stated that it's "standards could not be faulted". However, when the Australian Banking regulator investigated the 2004 fraud it reported that "internal control systems failed at every level to detect and shut-down the irregular currency options trading activity".

Keywords: Audit reports, Best practices, Board renewal, Corporate Governance, Fraud, Internal controls, Reporting failures, Sarbanes-Oxley

JEL Classification: D74, G28, G38, K23

Suggested Citation

Turnbull, Shann, Case Study on the Irrelevance of Best Practices in Corporate Governance (March 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Shann Turnbull (Contact Author)

International Institute for Self-Governance ( email )

PO Box 266 Woollahra
Cell: +61418222378
Sydney, New South Wales 1350
+61293278487 (Phone)
+61280655905 (Fax)

SKYPE: shann.turnbull

Sustainable Money Working Group ( email )

Holyoake House
Hanover Street
Manchester, M60 0AS
United Kingdom

New Garden City Alliance ( email )

113 Guinness Court
London, UK, SE1 3TA
United Kingdom
+44 207 378 1902 (Phone)


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