Bill proposes widespread whistleblower reform

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Whistleblowers) Bill 2017 closed for public submissions on 3 November 2017. The Bill would create a single whistleblower protection regime in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) to cover the corporate, financial and credit sectors, and establish a new whistleblower protection regime in the taxation law. Among other things, the Bill would expand the range of persons eligible for protection and broaden the disclosures protected, as well as introduce a new civil penalty offence for disclosing a whistleblower's identity (other than to a regulator). Public companies and large proprietary companies would be required to have an internal whistleblower policy. The Bill seeks to implement a number of recommendations in a report released by the Parliamentary Joint Committee (available here). The full text of the Bill is available here and a summary of the proposed reforms is available on our website here.  

ASIC examines tougher penalties for white collar crime

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission ("ASIC") Enforcement Review Taskforce has called for increased civil penalties, larger maximum prison sentences and a broader variety of offences for a range of penalties. Key positions outlined in the paper ‘Strengthening Penalties for Corporate and Financial Sector Misconduct’ would expand the range of civil penalty provisions and increase (more than double) maximum civil penalty amounts in the Corporations Act 2001(Cth), Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001(Cth) and National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth), as well as make disgorgement remedies available in civil penalty proceedings under those Acts so that profits gained or losses avoided may be recovered. The paper is available here.   

Senate Committee recommends anti-money laundering legislation be passed

Debate on the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment Bill 2017 has commenced in the House of Representatives following the report by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (available here)recommending that the Bill be passed.The Bill would, among other things, increase the investigation and enforcement powers of the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre ("AUSTRAC") CEO and amend anti-money laundering legislation to regulate digital currencies (such as Bitcoin). The Bill would introduce a new designated service and register to regulate digital currency exchange.