Following on from the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce, Treasury has now released draft legislation focusing on expanding ASIC's powers.
These powers would bring ASIC enhanced abilities in line with the Crimes Act, relating to things like phone tapping and search warrants. We'll go into further detail about what these powers would entail next week, but before then, it's worth reflecting on recent comments made by ASIC investment management senior executive leader Rhys Bollen at the Financial Services Council Summit in Sydney.
At the time, Bollen said the regulator had a “lot of work” ahead of it following on from the Hayne report and subsequent inquiries. “The caseload has definitely increased,” he said.
But is ASIC moving fast enough? Bollen said the public would be “seeing more from us in terms of enforcement and compliance” from now on, but expressed concerns that “momentum for reform does sometimes wane after a crisis or a moment of truth like the Commission. I wouldn’t like to wait - already we’re seeing some reforms being debated, and the longer we take the more that will happen.”
This inertia seemed to be an issue within financial services as well, he added, noting that that “we still regularly see the sorts of cases brought before the Commission still coming through. We saw another breach report recently with a fee-for-no-service scenario.”
“There are still products and scenarios that might be legal,” he continued, “but aren’t particularly fair or in the consumer’s best interest. Fundamentally we want to move to a new approach focused on safety and fairness, not just disclosure.”
It remains to be seen how the prospective new powers being drafted for ASIC will affect how it navigates a post-Royal Commission world, but it’s worth asking the question: do you think the regulator has done, and will do, enough to curb the kind of conduct that led to the Commission in the first place?
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