ASIC has received not only new leadership but a firm warning from the government that it expects the regulator to “support Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID pandemic.”
Joe Longo, senior adviser at law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, is the new chair of ASIC. Mr Longo worked as general counsel for Deutsche Bank in both London and Hong Kong for 17 years, prior to which he was ASIC’s national director for enforcement.
He replaces James Shipton, who opted to resign from his position in the wake of an expenses scandal despite ultimately being cleared of wrongdoing.
“Joe is known to many at the agency from his time as National Director of Enforcement from 1996-2000 and subsequent interactions as a lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills,” Mr Shipton said in a statement.
“His wealth of domestic and international experience will serve ASIC well in the vital work it does in supporting the financial system and economy, especially as Australia recovers from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
ACCC commissioner Sarah Court will also join ASIC as its new deputy chair, replacing Daniel Crennan. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hailed Ms Court’s “extensive experience in regulation, compliance, consumer protection and civil litigation” and congratulated both her and Mr Longo on their appointments.
“They are both highly qualified and experienced individuals with a deep understanding of both the private and public sectors. ASIC will benefit from their understanding of regulatory settings, insight into business and their strong leadership,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Also on the agenda – a new statement of expectations for ASIC that “will outline the Government’s priorities for and expectations of ASIC.”
“The statement will make clear that the Government expects the Commission, as a whole, to operate as a strategic board and that all operational matters are the responsibility of the chair, who is the accountable authority,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“The statement will also make clear that the Government expects ASIC to support Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID pandemic.”
Mr Frydenberg also announced the creation of the Financial Regulator Assessment Authority (FRAA) to provide an external framework for assessing the effectiveness of both APRA and ASIC. The FRAA will consist of three independent appointees together with the Treasury secretary and will be responsible for conducting reviews every two years and as directed by the Treasurer.
“In its first year, the FRAA will be tasked with assessing the effectiveness and capability of ASIC so as to assist the incoming chair in ensuring ASIC is operating effectively and consistent with the Government’s Statement of Expectations,” Mr Frydenberg said.
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