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Parliamentary committee to put ASIC under the spotlight

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Reporter 2 minute read

The financial services regulator will face scrutiny from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics as part of the committee’s review of its performance.

The parliamentary committee will examine the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) performance of its key functions as Australia’s corporate, market and financial system regulator during a public hearing to be held in Canberra on Friday (22 June).

Speaking of the review, committee chair and Liberals MP Sarah Henderson noted that the hearing comes at a convenient time, given the recent financial services royal commission.

“Given there are legitimate community concerns about misconduct in the financial sector, the hearing provides a timely opportunity for the committee to scrutinise ASIC on its performance and operation,” Ms Henderson said.

Ms Henderson added that the hearing will provide the committee with an opportunity to question ASIC chair James Shipton for the first time since he commenced his five-year term on 1 February.

“As this will be the first time the new chairman of ASIC, Mr James Shipton, has appeared before the committee, it will be a chance to question the chair on his priorities,” Ms Henderson said.

The chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics went on to outline that the government had recently announced a range of measures to strengthen ASIC, including “increased criminal and civil penalties for corporate misconduct and new powers to strip wrongdoers of profits”.

ASIC will be the second regulator to front the committee this year, after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) was scrutinised in March.

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APRA was questioned by committee members over the performance and operation of its oversight of the financial sector, which included scrutiny of its macro-prudential curbs on investor and interest-only lending growth, introduced in 2014 and 2017, respectively.

Over the course of 2018, ASIC has appeared before the Productivity Commission and the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

Most recently, the corporate watchdog raised concerns over a “cultural issue” within the banking and financial services sector, claiming that the conduct of the banks does not reflect their “professional ethos”.

In its response during the third round of hearings of the financial services royal commission, ASIC claimed that the conduct of the sector has not reflected its public commitment to “do what is right” for the customer.

ASIC criticised the “legalistic” attitude employed by the banks in response to wrongdoing identified by the regulator.

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[Related: ASIC flags credit repair risks]

Parliamentary committee to put ASIC under the spotlight
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