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ASIC commits to punishment through courts

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Financial services providers in breach of the law will face court action under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) new enforcement approach.

“Why not litigate? is our own strategic construct and the aim of this is to deter future misconduct and address community expectations that wrongdoing be punished and publicly denounced through the courts,” Chairman James Shipton told last week’s ASIC Annual Forum.

“Our enforcement work has a core focus on deterrence, public denunciation and punishment of wrongdoing by way of litigation.”

The corporate regulator will initiate court action if a company is “more likely than not” to have broken the law and pursuing the matter would advance public interest.

Deputy Chairman Daniel Crennan told a panel discussion ASIC will use its expanded powers to tackle poor behaviour “because otherwise they are an abstract concept”.

ASIC was heavily criticised in the Hayne royal commission report for favouring negotiated agreements over public denunciation and punishment.