ASIC’s Annual Report for the 2019-20 financial year has been tabled today in the Australian Parliament.
The report is a record of ASIC’s activities and performance for the previous financial year.
In 2019-20 ASIC continued to work towards our vision of a fair, strong and efficient financial system for all Australians.
The Australian financial system faced significant challenges across the year as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic, and ASIC was focused on ensuring that the system, although under stress, continued to be fair, strong and efficient.
We recalibrated our regulatory priorities to allow us and the entities we regulate to focus on the impact of the pandemic. We stepped up our markets supervision work to support the fair and orderly operation of markets, heightened our support for consumers who may be vulnerable to scams or who needed assistance, and supported business by facilitating timely completion of capital raisings and other urgent transactions.
ASIC also remained focused on a range of initiatives we began before or in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
We continued to support the Government’s legislative reform agenda, and used the new regulatory powers and remedies given to us, including product intervention powers.
We embedded our enhanced supervision model within ASIC, encompassing our close and continuous monitoring program and our targeted reviews of corporate governance practices in large listed entities.
ASIC’s Office of Enforcement oversaw our expedited Royal Commission‑related enforcement work, the building of our enforcement capability and our increased and accelerated enforcement action. In 2019–20, there was:
- an 11% increase in the number of investigations
- a 48% improvement in the time taken to file civil penalty proceedings
- an increase in the total civil penalties imposed from $12.7 million to $25 million
- a 57% increase in the number of custodial sentences imposed (including those fully suspended).
In relation to major financial institutions (the four big banks and AMP Limited), there was a 100% increase in the number of civil penalty proceedings commenced and a 25% increase in matters referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
There was also a greater focus on individual accountability in ASIC’s enforcement work this year, which resulted in:
- the number of individuals charged with non‑summary criminal offences increasing by 35%; and
- the number of civil penalty claims made against individuals increasing by 40%.