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ASIC alludes to criminal proceedings

In its update on the implementation of Commissioner Hayne’s recommendations, the corporate regulator has hinted that it is investigating 13 specific referrals.

James Shipton, the chair of Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) told the Senate economics legislation committee that the corporate regulator had released an update that responded to the banking royal commission’s final report.

“This update is a crucial document for ASIC as it highlights our important work to date of putting ASIC on a more effective strategic footing,” it stated. 

The update mentioned that 11 specific referrals were made to ASIC in relation to eight entities, which was in addition to two referrals made during the hearings.

“We have prioritised work on those matters. While ASIC does not comment on actual or potential investigations, it will provide an update (when appropriate to do so publicly) on the handling of those matters – if proceedings are commenced, for example,” the update read.

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The update also included specific mention of another 12 matters that were case studies before the royal commission and that they had commenced proceedings in relation to two other case studies.

The two case studies were Nulie and MLC and Dover Financial Advisers and Terry McMaster but ASIC said it was assessing more.

“ASIC is assessing another 16 case studies to determine whether investigations should be commenced. Aside from the royal commission case studies, ASIC’s enforcement teams are undertaking a large volume of work on a range of misconduct relating to major financial institutions and their representatives,” the update said.

Mr Shipton said that this work would be undertaken by a separate Office of Enforcement within ASIC after an internal enforcement review suggested that one be established.

“The office will investigate and take enforcement action where there are contraventions of the laws we regulate, will centralise enforcement decision-making processes and adopt a ‘why not litigate?’ enforcement stance, and will functionally separate enforcement teams, as much as possible, from non-enforcement related contact with regulated entities,” Mr Shipton said.

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Recent regulation from the government, including the whistleblower bill and the treasury law amendments, also helped ASIC to do its job, said Mr Shipton.

“It would be remiss of me not to mention passage this week of crucial legislation that will boost significantly ASIC's ability to do its job.”

Mr Shipton said that, since February, there had already been a 15 per cent increase in the number of ASIC investigations on foot and a 50 per cent increase in the number of ASIC enforcement investigations of misconduct by large financial institutions.

“Corporate Australia should know that ASIC has the very clear will to take wrongdoers to court. As the royal commission found, that is what Australians expect of their regulator. And that is what ASIC will deliver,” he said.

[Related: Hayne proposals to be ‘fully implemented’ by ASIC

ASIC alludes to criminal proceedings
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