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ASIC to offer immunity for misconduct informers

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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will offer immunity to people who inform the regulator about misconduct they have engaged in with others and are prepared to co-operate on investigations and court action.

The immunity would apply for market manipulation, insider trading and in cases of dishonest, misleading and deceptive conduct in connection with financial products and services.

“This policy is based on a recognition that it may be in the public interest to provide an incentive to individuals who have combined with others to break the law, to reveal misconduct that may otherwise have remained undiscovered,” the policy released last week says.

Immunity will only be available to the first person to report the misconduct and who meets the criteria, before the start of an investigation. Individuals who don’t meet the requirements will still be given “due credit” for co-operation received.

ASIC has powers to grant civil immunity and will work with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to provide input on criminal immunity.

Individuals who breach Part 7.10 of the Corporations Act can face up to 15 years in prison, can be fined almost $1 million or made to pay three times the value of an illegal benefit received.

“ASIC continues to develop and implement new tools to combat and detect misconduct,” Commissioner Sean Hughes said. “The immunity policy enhances ASIC’s ability to identify and take enforcement action against complex markets and financial services contraventions.”

Approaches to the regulator under the immunity policy can be made through an online form, a hotline or a dedicated email address.

ASIC says it will use its best endeavours to protect any confidential information provided, including a person’s identity, except as required by law.

The policy is available here.