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ASIC notes strong enforcement focus in annual report

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By Keith Ford
  •  
3 minute read

The corporate regulator released its annual report for the last financial year, saying it has driven positive outcomes for consumers and small businesses.

ASIC chair Joe Longo said the regulator had a strong focus on enforcement throughout the 2022–23 financial year, adding that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) had actively litigated and sought significant penalties to address misconduct.

“Our enforcement action resulted in 35 criminal convictions and almost $190 million in civil penalties and fines imposed by the courts. In addition, we commenced more than 130 new investigations in 2022–23,” Mr Longo said.

“ASIC remains focused on maximising our regulatory impact by addressing areas of greatest harm. Our priorities reflect the key trends and emerging issues in our regulatory environment, including the growth in sustainable finance, Australia’s ageing population, emerging and disruptive digital technologies and associated risks, and product design and distribution.

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“We have made considerable progress against these priorities throughout the year, and this work continues.”

In 2022–23, ASIC collected $1.84 billion for the Commonwealth in fees, charges, and supervisory cost recovery levies, which represents a 9 per cent increase from the 2021–22 year.

The annual report also showed that for 2022–23, ASIC received $426 million in operating appropriation revenue from the Australian government, including $55 million for the Enforcement Special Account (ESA), representing a $4 million or 1 per cent increase compared with 2021–22.

ASIC also received about $32 million of own‑source revenue, which is down $36 million from the previous year, while also running at a deficit of $83.65 million for the financial year. ASIC attributed this to an increase in employee costs, including higher separation and redundancy costs compared with 2021–22, and higher amortisation expenses related to software.

Among the key outcomes for the regulator over 2022–23 were its first enforcement action for alleged greenwashing, disrupting predatory conduct aimed at vulnerable consumers and small businesses, targeting poorly designed products with its stop order powers, taking action against breaches of directors’ duties, reviewing the cyber resilience practices of Australian business, and focusing on scam prevention and detection by the major banks.

ASIC added that over the last seven years, ASIC has overseen more than $7 billion of remediation to an estimated 8.42 million Australian consumers for failures identified across the financial services industry.

“There are a significant number of ongoing investigations and surveillance activities that we will report on in the year ahead,” Mr Longo added.

“We have a sharp focus on achieving positive outcomes for consumers and small business. We will continue to work with our stakeholders and financial industry participants to improve conduct and strengthen trust in the system, as well as enforce the law to greatest effect.”

The corporate regulator also reported that it secured a total of $185.4 million in penalties from its civil court actions.

During the financial year, ASIC completed 52 civil actions, which covered fees for no service breaches, systemic compliance failures, continuous disclosure contraventions, false and misleading advertising, misleading sale of insurance, financial hardship misconduct, superannuation advice breaches, and failure to comply with the best interests duty.

“Our enduring commitment to driving positive outcomes for consumers and investors and ensuring the integrity of Australia’s financial system will continue to motivate us in the year ahead,” Mr Longo said.

ASIC notes strong enforcement focus in annual report

The corporate regulator released its annual report for the last financial year, saying it has driven positive outcomes for consumers and small businesses.

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