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Case dropped against former credit union CEO

by Adrian Suljanovic11 minute read

Charges have been withdrawn against the former chief executive of WAW Credit Union by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Peter Challis, the former CEO of WAW Credit Union Co-Operative Limited, has had his charges dropped by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) following an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Challis was charged with one count of failing to discharge his duties in good faith in the best interests of a corporation after an ASIC investigation.

WAW conducted elections to fill two vacant board positions between 4 November and 18 November 2015. The credit union’s members voted electronically using personal details to access an online portal in order to cast their votes.


After the election, irregularities in the voting were discovered by the WAW board, particularly that 627 ballots had been cast from the same IP address.

ASIC alleged that Mr Challis knew the owner of the IP address from which the ballots were cast and neglected to inform the WAW board.

Mr Challis appeared before Wodonga Magistrates’ Court on the criminal charge of one count of contravening s 184(1) of the Corporations Act 2001, which carried a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and/or 2,000 penalty units in 2018.

The charges against Mr Challis were withdrawn after Judge Leighfield of the County Court of Victoria discovered that Mr Challis did not have a relevant duty at law in the circumstances of this case during a pretrial ruling.

The Crown filed a nolle prosequi (a formal notice by a prosecutor to the judge that they will cease prosecution) and Mr Challis was subsequently discharged by the judge.

Westpac in ASIC’s crosshairs

The financial services regulator recently commenced with civil proceedings against major bank Westpac for allegedly failing to process 229 hardship applications between 2 October 2015 and 20 March 2022 (including Westpac’s subsidiaries) within the appropriate time frame.

ASIC put forward that the major bank had breached its obligations under the National Credit Code, in which a lender has 21 days to notify the customer if it disagrees to a change to contract or if it requires further information to make its decision.

In an ASX release the morning of 5 September 2023, Westpac recognised the proceedings commenced by ASIC in the Federal Court, which it said related to a “technology failure in which ASIC alleges 229 applications for hardship assistance” were not assessed within 21 days.

[RELATED: Westpac faces court over alleged failures in processing hardship notices]

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Adrian Suljanovic


Adrian Suljanovic is a journalist on Momentum Media's mortgages titles: The Adviser and Mortgage Business.

Adrian has written for a range of titles under the Momentum Media umbrella such as IFA, Investor Daily and Lawyer’s Weekly before joining the mortgages team in 2022.

He graduated from the University of Wollongong in 2021 gaining a Bachelor of Communication & Media with a major in Digital & Social Media.

E-mail Adrian at: [email protected]


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