26 September 2018
Media Release - #2018009, 2018

Government consults on stronger penalties for corporate and financial sector misconduct

Joint media release with
The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP
Treasurer

The Coalition Government is committed to ensuring the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has the powers it needs to take strong action to protect consumers from corporate and financial sector misconduct.

Draft legislation to strengthen penalties for corporate and financial sector misconduct has been released by the Government for public consultation.

The proposed changes would double maximum imprisonment penalties and significantly increase financial penalties for some of the most serious ‘white-collar’ criminal offences bringing Australia’s penalties in closer alignment with leading international jurisdictions.

The financial penalty for individuals for civil contraventions would also be increased more than five‑fold, from $200,000 to $1.05 million, or three times the benefit gained (whichever is greatest) from the contravention. Contraveners may also be stripped of ill-gotten gains from their illegal activities.

The draft legislation also seeks to:

  • introduce criminal offences that sit alongside strict and absolute liability offences;
  • harmonise and expand the infringement notice regime; and
  • introduce a new test that applies to all dishonesty offences under the Corporations Act 2001.

These proposed changes seek to implement key recommendations of the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce, and complement action the Government has already taken including providing $70.1 million in additional funding to ASIC to bolster its enforcement capabilities and establishing a new one stop shop for consumer complaints.

The Government is committed to ensuring ASIC is properly armed to effectively deter, prosecute and punish those who do the wrong thing, to improve community confidence and outcomes for consumers and investors in the financial services and corporate sectors.

Stakeholders are invited to lodge submissions online via the Treasury website. Submissions open today, 26 September 2018 and close on 23 October 2018.