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Watchdog waves red flag following royal commission

Is ASIC about to test its new teeth?

After the banks, it was the regulators, and principally ASIC, that felt Kenneth Hayne’s ire for not taking misbehaving companies to court.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is now responding by “waving the red flag” in its first major update since the royal commission’s interim report, Your Money chief business reporter Leo Shanahan told TICKY.

“A big focus of this response is enforcement and the setting up of this new enforcement division,” Shanahan said.

That new unit will be tasked with prosecuting big corporations and will be kept separate from others within ASIC, in principle allowing it to work independently and autonomously.

It will be run by new deputy chair Daniel Crennan QC, who Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described as “effectively, the chief prosecutor”.

He and the unit, which will wield greater powers granted to them in the wake of the royal commission, will have their work cut out for them.

“The royal commission made 11 specific referrals to ASIC for eight entities, and this is in addition to two referred to, so that makes 13 in total,” Shanahan said.

“ASIC is undertaking another 12 investigations into case studies that were before the royal commission [plus] another two case studies they had already commenced proceedings on including Terry McMaster and NULIS… and ASIC are assessing another 16 case studies to see whether investigations should be commenced,” he explained.

On top of all of that, ASIC has said it will be working on a “large volume of work on a range of misconduct relating to major financial institutions and their representatives”, with the expectation that these will “result in a number of referrals to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for assessment for criminal prosecution.”

That means that even with the royal commission done and dusted, more heads could still roll.

Watch the full segment above. 

Read more: The 5 big stories from the royal commission’s final report
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