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Treasury consults on new ASIC powers

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Treasury today released for public consultation its draft legislation to arm the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) with more powers to supervise the financial services sector.

The consultation covers recommendations the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce submitted in December 2017 to the Coalition Government, which agreed last year in principle to implement the suggestions.

The sweeping changes include amending the Telecommunications Interception Information Act to allow ASIC to receive and use intercepted information for investigating and prosecuting serious offences.

Additionally submitting false or misleading documents could see an individual behind bars for five years.

“The exposure draft legislation is further evidence of the Government’s commitment to strengthening financial regulators like ASIC, and restoring trust in the financial system as part of our plan to build a stronger economy,” a statement from the office of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says.

The draft legislation also:

• Strengthens ASIC's licensing powers by increasing the standards required of an Australian Financial Services Licence holder, at both the time of application and on an ongoing basis

• Aligns the penalties for false and misleading statements in AFS Licence and Australian Credit Licence applications

• Extends ASIC's powers so it may ban a person from performing functions in a financial services or credit business. The legislation also expands the grounds on which ASIC can issue banning orders

• Harmonises ASIC's search warrant powers across different Acts and brings them into line with the search warrant powers in the Crimes Act.

The closing date for submissions is October 9.

For more information, click here.

In a separate statement, ASIC today gave an update on actions it has taken in response to recommendations made by the Hayne royal commission in its final report.

“This update, outlining as it does the progress in pursuit of ASIC’s renewed enforcement mandate, should indicate the sense of urgency and significance that the ASIC Commissioners and staff are bringing to the task,” Chairman James Shipton said.

“It also demonstrates that we will continue to use all of the regulatory tools at our disposal to deliver a fair, safe and efficient financial system for all Australians.”

Click here for the update.