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Regulators fix their focus on COVID-19

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Australia’s corporate and prudential regulators announced today they will adjust their regulatory efforts to focus on the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has suspended most of its planned policy and supervision initiatives, directing resources to counter potential impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“As a result, APRA’s supervision priorities outlined in January 2020 will be largely suspended until at least September 30, particularly where they involve intensive engagement with regulated entities,” APRA says.

“It will keep the situation under review, but presently does not plan to recommence consultation on any non-essential matters before September 30.

“Over the period ahead, APRA’s primary supervision focus will be on monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the financial and operational capacity of regulated institutions.”

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) says it has immediately suspended a number of near-term activities that are not time-critical. These include consultation, regulatory reports and reviews such as the ASIC report on executive remuneration.

“Until at least September 30, the other matters that ASIC will afford priority are where there is the risk of significant consumer harm, serious breaches of the law, risks to market integrity and time-critical matters,” ASIC says.

“ASIC is committed to working constructively and pragmatically with the firms we regulate, mindful they may encounter difficulties in complying with their regulatory obligations due to the impact of COVID-19.”