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Predatory lending in ASIC’s crosshairs

by Adrian Suljanovic9 minute read

The financial services and product regulator has announced it will be targeting predatory lending in an ongoing focus to protect consumers.

the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has confirmed that it will be targeting instances of predatory lending along with greenwashing and misleading insurance pricing promises over 2023.

According to ASIC, it will have a “strong focus on enforcement activity” in regard to sustainable finance practices and disclosure of financial scams and investor harms involving crypto assets, cyber and operational resilience, and climate risks.

The focus comes after the regulator confirmed it had laid 173 criminal charges between July and December 2022 along with $76.3 million in civil penalties (imposed by the courts). It also commenced 62 investigations with a further 103 investigations pending.

Total criminal charges for the entirety of 2022 hit 312, with $222.1 million in court-imposed civil penalties.

In addition, ASIC issued 22 design and distribution obligations (DDO) stop orders to prevent consumers and investors from being targeted by products “inappropriate to their objectives, financial situation and needs,” the regulator said.

ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court said the actions taken during 2022’s final quarter reflect ASIC’s ongoing “strategic priorities and enforcement priorities”.

“In the final three months of last year we commenced a number of significant enforcement and regulatory actions to address misconduct, market integrity threats and consumer harms in sectors including financial services, retail and crypto-assets,” Ms Court said.

“This includes corporate governance and directors’ duties, product design and distribution, and misleading statements involving sustainable finance practices.”

Ms Court added that ASIC takes its role to protect consumers and investors seriously and “won’t hesitate to take action to protect consumers” where poor conduct is identified.

“We will also remain focused on helping industry to meet their legal obligations including by providing simple, effective and easy-to-access guidance,” Ms Court said.

APRA ‘embedding’ regulator reforms

As well as ASIC’s 2023 priorities, the prudential regulator recently confirmed it would have fewer policy priorities over the course of 2023 as it focuses on bedding down regulator reforms to ensure entities can better manage risks and challenges in the upcoming environment.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released its key policy priorities, which include:

  • Completing key reforms to strengthen the financial and operational resilience of APRA-regulated entities and improve outcomes for superannuation members

  • Modernising the prudential architecture to make the framework clearer, simpler, and more adaptable. This will involve incremental changes in framework design, in how APRA writes policy, and in how the industry navigates it

  • Reviewing and rationalising core standards including for governance and the regulation of conglomerate groups

[RELATED: APRA’s 2023 priorities about ‘embedding’ regulatory reforms]

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Adrian Suljanovic


Adrian Suljanovic is a journalist on Momentum Media's mortgages titles: The Adviser and Mortgage Business.

Adrian has written for a range of titles under the Momentum Media umbrella such as IFA, Investor Daily and Lawyer’s Weekly before joining the mortgages team in 2022.

He graduated from the University of Wollongong in 2021 gaining a Bachelor of Communication & Media with a major in Digital & Social Media.

E-mail Adrian at: [email protected]


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