ASIC has released its enforcement update report for the period 1 January to 30 June 2020.
A copy of the report – outlining key actions taken over the past six months to enforce the law and support our enforcement objectives – can be found here.
The report covers the ongoing areas of focus, including a foreword from ASIC Deputy Chair Daniel Crennan QC discussing ASIC’s enforcement progress in the first six months of 2020 including in relation to the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry-related enforcement work.
During this period, ASIC has successfully completed enforcement action in two long-running matters, Octaviar and Storm Financial, both of which related to directors’ duties obligations in Australia and resulted in civil penalties and disqualification orders.
ASIC has also had significant civil penalties imposed against large financial institutions including:
- CBA was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $5 million and publish a corrective notice regarding its AgriAdvantage Plus Package; and
- AMP was ordered to pay a civil penalty of over $5 million for failing to prevent insurance churn by its financial planners.
ASIC has achieved enforcement outcomes against individuals including:
- Former Kleenmaid director Andrew Young sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment for fraud and insolvent trading;
- Company director George Nowak sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for deception relating to his dealings with the assets of self-managed superannuation funds;
- Former Sirtex Medical Limited CEO and director Gilman Wong sentenced for insider trading; and
- Pre-insolvency adviser Stephen O’Neill sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for money laundering for his role in a scheme to remove the company assets of a company that subsequently went into liquidation.
ASIC has also commenced civil penalty proceedings including against:
- Colonial First State Investments Limited (CFSIL) over alleged misleading and deceptive statements made to members of its FirstChoice superannuation fund; and
- CBA and CFSIL over alleged conflicted remuneration paid by CFSIL to CBA between 2013 and 2019.
To address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Australian financial system, ASIC has developed a set of pandemic-related enforcement priorities to guide the organisation’s response to misconduct associated with the pandemic. The priorities are set out in the enforcement update report and ASIC’s Office of Enforcement has a number of investigations into pandemic-related misconduct.