ASIC has gained civil penalties totalling $159.8 million in six months in a new record it says will send “strong messages of deterrence”.
ASIC said that its “increased resourcing” had allowed it to drive a 36 per cent increase in the number of criminal proceedings and a 64 per cent increase in civil penalty proceedings commenced since 2018.
“This included ASIC’s two largest ever civil penalty outcomes – penalties totalling $57.5 million were imposed on two NAB subsidiaries for fees-for-no-service misconduct, and penalties totalling $75 million were imposed on OTC derivatives provider AGM Markets Pty Ltd and two of its authorised representatives for systemic unconscionable conduct,” ASIC said.
ASIC has also made significant progress in tackling its pipeline of work from the royal commission, with only 11 investigations still ongoing of the 45 that sprang from referrals and case studies. Case study referrals from the royal commission resulted in a total of $77.65 million in penalties, and ASIC warned that it would continue to act against misconduct that “threatens the integrity of Australia’s financial system and markets”.
“This includes pursuing matters that attempt to exploit the pandemic environment or that hinder recovery from it. We will continue to encourage entities and individuals who are under investigation to cooperate with ASIC as fully and quickly as reasonably possible,” the regulator said.
A total of 27 individuals were charged in criminal proceedings, while 194 criminal charges were laid. Five custodial and 14 non-custodial sentences were served, while ASIC launched 14 civil penalty cases and banned 22 individuals from providing financial services or credit.
“The outcomes of these cases send a clear message to all industries – consumers must be treated fairly and misconduct that results in significant consumer harm will be strongly punished,” ASIC said.