ASIC secured $229.9 million in civil penalties and 33 convictions during 2021-22 FY

Rick Steves

“Looking ahead, our Corporate Plan flags our near-and-medium-term priorities to focus on areas of increasing risk of consumer harm, including greenwashing claims and crypto investment scams. It also sets out our sharpened focus on the superannuation industry and our international work supporting consistency in standards of climate change and sustainability reporting by corporations.”

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has secured $229.9 million in civil penalties during the 2021-22 financial year and convictions against 33 individuals, according to its Annual Report released today.

A few key outcomes achieved this year includes $113 million in penalties imposed on Westpac for widespread compliance failures, the judgment against RI Advice Group, and establishing that failure to manage cyber security risks is a breach of licence obligations.

ASIC also disrupted ‘pump and dump’ activity in listed stocks to limit the potential for harm to consumers as a result of market manipulation with charges laid against Gabriel Govinda, and extended product intervention orders for contracts for difference.

More rigorous accountability and obligations on providers of financial services

Outlining ASIC’s key regulatory and enforcement outcomes for 2021–22, the report covers a year of significant law reforms following on from the Financial Services Royal Commission.

ASIC Chair Joe Longo commented: ‘We have worked with industry to bed down significant reforms which offer consumers and investors greater protection from poor behaviour, through more rigorous accountability and obligations on providers of financial services. The magnitude of harm revealed during the FSRC and other recent inquiries has led to a considered expansion of the tools we have available to detect and deter wrongdoing in this sector.”

ASIC’s regulatory environment introduced in 2021-22 includes significant new obligations, such as:

  • design and distribution obligations, focused on protecting consumers’ interests and reducing the risk of harm caused by poor design, distribution and marketing
  • the breach reporting regime, which recognises the important role that licensees have in identifying and reporting breaches in a timely manner and provides a critical source of intelligence for ASIC
  • the hawking prohibition, which is designed to tackle consumer harms arising from consumers being approached with unwanted products through cold-calls or other unsolicited contact
  • deferred sales model aimed at improving consumer outcomes in the add-on insurance market.

“Looking ahead, our Corporate Plan flags our near-and-medium-term priorities to focus on areas of increasing risk of consumer harm, including greenwashing claims and crypto investment scams. It also sets out our sharpened focus on the superannuation industry and our international work supporting consistency in standards of climate change and sustainability reporting by corporations”, Joe Longo added.

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