Guidelines for managing allegations of misconduct against ASIC officers
This information sheet (INFO 107) describes the guidelines that are in place to ensure that complaints about the conduct of ASIC staff members in connection with our regulatory, investigative and enforcement work are investigated promptly and fairly. It also outlines the guidelines in place to ensure that ASIC staff members maintain high professional standards of behaviour and conduct when undertaking their duties. It covers:
Complaints not covered under this guideline
If you wish to complain about a decision made by ASIC in respect of a complaint that you lodged about an individual (who is not an ASIC staff member) or a company, you should follow the procedures outlined in Information Sheet 153 How ASIC deals with reports of misconduct (INFO 153).
If you have a complaint about ASIC late lodgement penalties and fees you should follow the procedures outlined in Information Sheet 87 Fee waivers (INFO 87).
If you wish to make a complaint not otherwise covered in this guideline, you should visit ASIC’s complaints page on our website to view information on how to do this.
What governs the conduct of ASIC staff members?
ASIC staff members are bound by the standard of conduct set out in the ASIC Code of Conduct.
The Code of Conduct requires ASIC employees to:
- Be accountable
- At all times comply with the law and ASIC’s Policies
- Protect and properly use information and records
- Report wrongdoing
- Treat people respectfully
- Be honest and act with integrity
- Refrain from public comment
- Perform work with competence, care and diligence
- Act in ASIC’s best interests
- Perform their role safely
- Treat people with care and respect
- Act with integrity
- Notify poor behaviour at work
- Disclose conflicts of interest
- Use information and resources properly
- Act responsibly with respect to gifts or hospitality.
In addition, ASIC staff members are bound by various state and federal statutes concerning privacy, confidentiality and criminal conduct.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is any attempt by any person (complainant) to make an allegation of unacceptable conduct against an ASIC staff member. The reasons why a complaint may have been made are not considered when deciding whether a matter is a complaint.
All conduct complaints will be recorded, acknowledged and appropriately investigated.
What are the types of complaints?
Conduct complaints are divided into two categories: serious complaints and less serious complaints.
Serious complaints relate to conduct that may materially affect ASIC’s regulatory work, its reputation or the safety or security of its information. This includes complaints involving allegations of abuse of office or powers, or alleged breaches of legislation, whether criminal or not. Examples of such complaints are misuse of confidential information, intimidation, using one’s office for personal gain, breach of confidentiality and breach of privacy.
Complaints that fall into the ‘serious’ category are investigated by ASIC’s Professional Standards Unit.
Less serious complaints
Less serious complaints are conduct complaints that are not considered to fall within the serious category. They include (but are not limited to) rudeness and poor or inappropriate service and discourtesy.
Conduct complaints that fall into the ‘less serious’ category are normally considered by Senior Managers within ASIC. In some cases, an independent ASIC staff member may deal directly with the complainant to resolve the issue.
Less serious complaints can often be resolved with an explanation of the law or of ASIC practices and procedures, or by bringing the complainant’s concerns to the attention of the ASIC staff member who is the subject of the complaint. The Professional Standards Unit oversees the outcomes of less serious complaints.
How to make a complaint
While all complaints, both oral and written, will be assessed, people wishing to lodge a complaint are encouraged to put any complaints in writing, setting out the name of the ASIC staff member involved and the circumstances of the alleged misconduct.
Complaints should be addressed to:
Professional Standards Unit
Australian Securities and Investments Commission
GPO Box 9827
Brisbane QLD 4001
ASIC will acknowledge receipt of complaints in writing within three working days of receipt. Resolution of complaints will be as prompt as possible but may take time because different procedures will apply depending on the seriousness of the allegation.
How ASIC investigates complaints
All complaints concerning allegations of misconduct against ASIC staff members in connection with our regulatory, investigative and enforcement work are referred to the Professional Standards Unit in the first instance.
On receiving a conduct complaint, the Professional Standards Unit will:
record the complaint
review the complaint and decide whether it is a serious or less serious complaint.
Less serious complaints
If the conduct complaint is considered to be in the less serious category, it will be referred to an appropriate Senior Manager. The Professional Standards Unit will oversee the handling of the complaint.
If the conduct complaint is considered to be in the serious category, the Professional Standards Unit will investigate the matter or nominate an appropriate officer (the Investigating Officer) to carry out the investigation.
Investigations will be conducted in a fair and objective manner with the purpose of establishing the facts. Investigations will usually be confidential. Any disclosure of information required for the investigation to proceed will be on a confidential basis. As a general rule, investigations will be conducted using ASIC resources. However, when there is reasonable cause to suspect that an ASIC staff member may have committed offences under either state or federal law, it may be more appropriate to refer the matter to the Australian Federal Police or the relevant state police.
Information provided to us in a complaint may contain personal information. We would usually disclose the details of the complaint to any of our staff who are the subject of the complaint. This information may include your name. If you do not want information contained in your complaint disclosed, you should inform us of this.
If you ask us not to reveal your name or the information you have provided, we may be unable to fully investigate your complaint because we cannot give our staff sufficient information to be able to respond to the complaint.
We will generally advise both the complainant and the ASIC staff member in writing of the result of any investigation.
Where can I get more information?
ASIC Code of Conduct
call ASIC on 1300 300 630 or ask a question online.
This is Information Sheet 107 (INFO 107), reissued in July 2019. Information sheets provide concise guidance on a specific process or compliance issue or an overview of detailed guidance.