ASIC today announced its enforcement priorities for 2024, indicating its enforcement focus for the coming year and communicating its intent to industry and stakeholders.
In 2024, two new priorities have been added in relation to the superannuation industry, including a focus on member services failures and misconduct relating to the erosion of superannuation balances.
New priorities relating to insurance claims handling, compliance with financial hardship obligations and the reportable situation regime have also been added.
In addition, ASIC will be taking action against misconduct relating to used car financing to vulnerable consumers and gatekeepers such as auditors, registered liquidators and financial services and credit licensees who do not comply with their legal obligations.
ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court announced at the ASIC Annual Forum in Melbourne the regulator’s continued focus on delivering strong enforcement outcomes.
‘Last year, we set ambitious enforcement priorities in part as a response to industry and consumer demand for more transparency on our key areas of focus. The enforcement priorities hold us, as a regulator, accountable, and importantly, they send a clear compliance and deterrence message to the entities we regulate.
‘We are taking matters to court and pursuing higher penalties than ever before. In delivering against our priorities this year, we took action against some of Australia’s biggest corporations. And we are not deterred from taking challenging cases where legal outcomes are not guaranteed,’ Ms Court said.
As financial markets continue to become increasingly digitised and automated, the technical and operational risks faced by market participants and market operators have also increased. ASIC has announced a new priority related to technology and operational resilience for market operators and participants in order to maintain market integrity.
‘We must test the scope of the laws that Parliament has enacted to protect market integrity, consumers and investors, to ensure those laws have a wide protective application. Where the law is complex, new or open to interpretation, we are not doing our job if we do not fully explore its reach.
‘Our goal is to create a culture of compliance across Australia’s financial system and the corporate sector more generally through decisive and high-profile enforcement action,’ Ms Court added.
ASIC has retained priorities relating to greenwashing and enforcing design and distribution obligations, and its focus on governance and directors’ duties failures has been added as an enduring priority.
Hear from ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court in the video below.
ASIC enforcement priorities 2024 - text version
Sarah Court, ASIC Deputy Chair: ASIC is committed to addressing misconduct that damages Australia’s financial markets. And we continue our efforts to protect consumers and investors.
As part of our enforcement approach, we set priorities to communicate our intent to industry and our stakeholders, and to give a clear indication of where we will direct our resources and expertise.
Last year, we set ambitious enforcement priorities and we have been in Court somewhere in the country almost every business day delivering on those aims.
We have taken matters related to greenwashing, financial hardship policies, unlicensed conduct, breaches of continuous disclosure laws and directors’ duties to name but a few.
We have taken action against some of Australia’s biggest corporations.
Our enforcement action has resulted in almost $150 million in civil penalties and more than 20 criminal convictions.
By the end of September, we had disqualified or removed 27 directors and banned 58 individuals or companies from providing financial services or credit activities.
We filed more than 20 new civil court actions, and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions also laid criminal charges against more than 20 individuals arising from ASIC investigations.
In 2024, we have added priorities relating to small business, compliance with the reportable situation regime, gatekeepers that facilitate misconduct, used car financing and market operators.
We recognise the continued cost-of-living pressures on consumers and small businesses. And we will continue to take enforcement action against predatory lending practices and high-cost credit.
We have retained priorities relating to greenwashing and financial product design and distribution and added new priorities for the superannuation industry and in relation to insurance claims mishandling.
You can find out more about our enduring enforcement priorities and our areas of focus for 2024, on the ASIC website.
View the ASIC enforcement priorities for 2024.
View the ASIC enforcement priorities for 2023.