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Government announces ‘significant’ corporate crackdown

The federal government has announced plans to reform the Corporations Act to increase criminal penalties for misconduct as damning evidence continues to be revealed before the royal commission.

In a statement issued today, Treasurer Scott Morrison said that the reform will represent the “most significant increases in maximum civil penalties in 20 years”.

The government will increase penalties under the Corporations Act to:

• For individuals: (i) 10 years’ imprisonment; and/or (ii) the larger of $945,000 OR three times the benefits;

• For corporations: (i) the larger of $9.45 million; OR (ii) three times the benefits OR 10 per cent of annual turnover.

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The government will expand the range of contraventions subject to civil penalties and will also increase the civil penalty amounts that can be imposed by courts to the maximum of:

i. the greater of $1.05 million (for individuals, from $200,000) and $10.5 million (for corporations, from $1 million); or

ii. three times the benefit gained or loss avoided; or

iii. 10 per cent of the annual turnover (for corporations).

“In addition, ASIC will be able to seek additional remedies to strip wrongdoers of profits illegally obtained, or losses avoided from contraventions resulting in civil penalty proceedings.”

The crackdown comes after Mr Morrison has slammed AMP for misleading ASIC amid revelations of “deeply disturbing” misconduct by its staff, highlighting that such behaviour could attract jail time.

Likewise, the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, told ABC AM on Thursday (19 April) that the government was “very disturbed by a number of the revelations that have been revealed recently at the royal commission” and the “false and misleading statements that have been made to ASIC”.

More to come.

[Related: Banker misconduct could lead to ‘jail time’]

Government announces ‘significant’ corporate crackdown
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