In light of the Royal Commission, the Turnbull Government has increased criminal and civil penalties for corporate misconduct and boosted ASIC's surveillance powers. Treasurer Scott Morrison and Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O'Dwyer said the new penalties "represent the most significant increases" in more than two decades.
For individuals, penalties for serious criminal offences under the Corporations Act have been raised to a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment and/or $945,000 or three times the benefits. For corporations, a $9.45 million fine, three times benefits of 10% of annual turnover.
The range of contraventions subject to civil penalties has also been widened; maximum civil penalties are now $1.05 million (previously $200,000) for individuals and $10.5 million for corporations (previously $1 million).
With regards to ASIC, Morrison and O'Dwyer said the regulator will have expanded abilities to ban individuals from "performing any role in a financial services company where they are found to be unfit, improper, or incompetent."
ASIC will also strengthen its powers to refuse, revoke or cancel financial services or credit licenses where the licensee is "not fit or proper" and be granted access to telecommunications intercept material to improve its investigative tools.
"The Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring ASIC is armed with greater powers to effectively deter, prosecute, and punish those who do the wrong thing, to improve community confidence and outcomes for consumers and investors in the financial services and corporate sector," the joint statement said.
"Today's reforms to ASIC's powers and penalties follow recommendations made by the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce.
The Taskforce was established in October 2016 to fulfil the Government's commitment to review the adequacy of ASIC's enforcement regime in response to the Murray Financial System Inquiry, and provided its report to Government in December 2017."This article was first published by https://www.financialstandard.com.auAuthor: ALEX BURKE