28 June 2017
Media Release - #2017053, 2017

ASIC enforcement review consults on search warrant powers, licensing powers and industry codes

The Government welcomes the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce’s release of the positions papers titled ‘Harmonisation and Enhancement of Search Warrant Powers’, ‘Strengthening ASIC’s Licensing Powers’, and ‘Industry Codes in the Financial Sector’.

The Taskforce was established to implement the Government’s commitment, arising from its response to the Financial System (Murray) Inquiry, to strengthen ASIC’s enforcement tools in relation to the financial services and credit licensing regimes. 

Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, said the Government is ensuring ASIC has the appropriate regulatory toolkit to improve outcomes for consumers in the financial services sector.

“The Taskforce review forms part of a range of measures the Government is undertaking to ensure that the financial services sector better serves the interests of consumers,” Minister O’Dwyer said.

The Industry Codes Paper outlines proposed reforms to ensure that codes are more effective in delivering better outcomes for consumers by ensuring they meet minimum requirements set by ASIC on enforceability and governance, and that codes are made mandatory for participants in appropriate industry sectors, such as life insurance and banking.

The Taskforce positions in the Search Warrants Paper are designed to harmonise and strengthen ASIC’s powers by aligning them with those available to other law enforcement agencies and regulators, such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The positions outlined by the Taskforce in the Licensing Powers Paper seek to strengthen ASIC’s licensing powers, by allowing the regulator to take appropriate action to refuse to grant, or to suspend or cancel, a licence where the applicant or licensee is not considered to be a fit and proper person.

“The Taskforce is now seeking community and industry feedback on these three papers before making final recommendations to the Government at the end of September,” Minister O’Dwyer said.

The ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce was established by the Turnbull Government in October 2016. The terms of reference allow for a thorough examination of the adequacy of ASIC's enforcement regime, including in relation to industry codes of conduct, to deter misconduct and foster consumer confidence in the financial system.

Membership of the Taskforce includes senior members of the Treasury, ASIC, the Attorney-General’s Department and the office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as representatives from industry bodies, consumer groups and academia.

The position papers are available on the Treasury website. Interested stakeholders are invited to comment on the positions put forward by the Taskforce. Submissions for the consultations will close on 26 July 2017.