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ASIC flags further action against super funds

By Keeli Cambourne and Jon Bragg
4 minute read

Misconduct in the superannuation sector is to be a major focus of ASIC into 2024, the regulator announced.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is looking to take “strong, targeted enforcement action” in the coming months and into 2024, as part of its focus on member outcomes in the superannuation sector.

The announcement comes after an enforcement and regulatory update by ASIC highlighted its work to protect consumers during the third quarter of the year.

This included calling on banks to ensure better consumer outcomes and civil penalty action against Westpac after alleged failures to address financial hardship notices.


“The July to September quarter saw ASIC achieve strong results in court and file significant matters that go toward our ongoing work to protect consumers,” said ASIC chair Joe Longo.

“Our focus on the best interests of members in the superannuation sector is part of our continuing work to make the financial system fair for all Australians.”

During the quarter, ASIC also took action against AustralianSuper to further protect members, alleging failures to address multiple member accounts.

“We allege that, for almost 10 years, AustralianSuper failed to put in place adequate policies and procedures to identify members who held multiple AustralianSuper accounts and to merge those accounts when this was in the members’ best interests,” the regulator said.

“AustralianSuper then continued to charge multiple sets of fees and insurance premiums to these members.”

The regulator said the failure to merge duplicate accounts is “problematic” across the super industry and indicated that it expects to take further action in relation to member services failures in the super sector.

ASIC also filed its second and third greenwashing matters during the quarter, with allegations of misleading statements made against Active Super and Vanguard.

Furthermore, ASIC saw its action against ANZ finalised with a $15 million penalty handed down by the Federal Court for misleading customers as to the funds available in certain credit card accounts.

Also during the past quarter, NAB was ordered to pay a $2.1 million penalty after the Federal Court found that it had engaged in unconscionable conduct over account fees.

“Acting against misconduct to maintain trust and integrity in the financial system is a key priority for ASIC. It drives and facilitates change in good consumer and investor behaviours, and ensures a strong and robust financial system,” the regulator said.

“ASIC’s enforcement performance remained strong in the third quarter of 2023. We continued to deliver against our 2023 enforcement priorities, with a strong focus on greenwashing, insurance sector failures, the protection of vulnerable consumers, and poor design, pricing and distribution of financial products.”

Crypto exchange Bit Trade and online investment platform eToro were also subject to enforcement action by ASIC during the third quarter.