The Turnbull Government has committed to increasing the criminal and civil penalties for corporate misconduct, following recommendations made by the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce (“the Taskforce”). The Government has also announced plans to “significantly increase” ASIC’s powers and allow ASIC to see additional remedies to strip wrongdoers of illegally obtained profits. The announcement comes as testimony continues at the financial services royal commission.
The Taskforce was commissioned in October 2016 by Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, and tasked with reviewing the enforcement regime of ASIC. The Taskforce included representatives from ASIC, the Attorney-General’s Department, and the office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. For more information on the Taskforce and their earlier papers, see TimeBase’s earlier article.
In a media release issued on 20 April 2018, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Ms O’Dwyer said:
“These reforms represent the most significant increases to the maximum civil penalties, in some instances, in more than twenty years. They bring Australia's penalties into closer alignment with leading international jurisdictions, and ensure our penalties are a credible deterrent to unacceptable misconduct.”
The media release outlines the Government’s plan to increase and harmonise criminal penalties to a maximum of:
For civil penalties:
The expansion of ASIC’s powers will include:
The Government has also released a response to the Taskforce recommendations. It has agreed or agreed in principle to all 50 of the Taskforce’s recommendations. The Government has said 30 of these will be prioritised, while another 20 will be considered along with the final report of the royal commission.
Australian Banking Association chief executive Anna Blight told ABC News that the Association backed the increased penalties:
A stronger range of penalties for misconduct is vital to tackling criminal and unacceptable behaviour by individuals and corporations…
Many of the issues raised over the last few days are the subject of investigation with changes already underway in the sector to ensure cases such as these cannot reoccur.
The industry expects that further changes should and will be made following the final recommendations of the Commission.”
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.
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