ASIC reports 52% jump in FSRC actions

ASIC has reported a 52% increase in enforcement investigations, triggered by the financial services royal commission (FSRC), involving CBA, NAB, Westpac, ANZ and AMP, or their officers or subsidiary companies.

In its six-monthly update on its enforcement and regulatory work since September 2019, the regulator said it was “expediting” the completion of FSRC-related enforcement work and making good use of increased government funding.

From January 2019 to January 2020, there had been a 52% increase in enforcement investigations involving CBA, NAB, Westpac, ANZ and AMP, or their officers or subsidiary companies, and 10% increase in ASIC enforcement investigations.

Of 13 referrals from the FSRC, two NAB companies, Nulis Nominees (Australia) Ltd and MLC Nominees Pty Ltd, and TAL Life Ltd were the subject of civil penalty litigation. Seven entities remained under investigation and three had been concluded.

Of the 32 case studies FSRC had examined, one, relating to NAB, was finalised in November, when former branch manager Matthew Alwyn was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, to be served as an intensive corrections order, for making false and misleading statements to NAB in relation to 24 home loan applications.

Four case studies were the subject of civil penalty litigation, ie Select AFSL Pty Ltd, Dover Financial Advisers Pty Ltd, RI Advice Group Pty Ltd and a former financial adviser John Doyle and NAB unlicensed home loan introducers.

Another two the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions was considering for potential criminal action, 17 were under investigation and eight had been concluded with no further action.

ASIC said by January 1, its enforcement office had 316 investigations on foot covering several misconducts across ASIC’s “full breadth of jurisdictions”, eg directors’ and officers’ breaches; insider trading and market manipulation; auditor and liquidator breaches; and breaches of licensing obligations, including of Australian financial services (AFS) licence obligations.