The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has come under fire for not being tough enough on banks and financial advisers, whose rip-offs are being exposed in a royal commission.
The Turnbull government acknowledged this by proposing in April a raft of changes to boost ASIC’s powers and available penalties.
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New ASIC chairman James Shipton told a parliamentary inquiry in Canberra on Friday he welcomed the changes, but also believed his agency had a “strong enforcement record”.
“Since 2011 ASIC has obtained 160 criminal conviction, 19 of which have occurred this financial year,” he said.
ASIC had also completed 140 civil penalty cases, 24 of them this financial year, and banned over 800 people from providing financial services or credit, with 390 people banned from being directors.
As well, the commission had recovered more than $320 million in compensation for consumers so far this year, out of nearly $1.8 billion since 2011.
Mr Shipton said ASIC looked forward to the new enforcement powers, which would deliver a “fair, strong and efficient financial system” for all Australians.
These include increased criminal and civil penalties for corporate misconduct and new powers to strip wrongdoers of profits.
There will also be new rules around the design and marketing of financial service products.
Mr Shipton’s appearance at the hearing in Canberra comes before the next round of banking royal commission hearings in Melbourne next week.
The next round of hearings will focus on remote and regional communities, including finance for farmers.