Treasury - Legislation proposals arising from ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce

Source: Draft Legislation: Reforms to strengthen penalties for corporate and financial sector misconduct

On 26 September 2018, the Treasury released for public consultation an exposure draft of the Treasury Laws Amendment (ASIC Enforcement) Bill 2018 (Bill).

According to the Explanatory Materials, the Bill proposes to amend various Acts which includes the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), in order to "introduce a stronger penalty framework in response to a number of recommendations from the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce". This will be achieved by:

  • "removing imprisonment as a penalty and increasing the financial penalties for all strict and absolute liability offences";
  • "making a wider range of offences subject to civil penalties";
  • introducing "relinquishment as a remedy available in civil penalty proceedings"; and
  • clarifying "that the courts are to give priority to compensating victims over ordering the payment of financial penalties".

Submissions in relation to the Bill will close on 23 October 2018.

Treasury - Proposed amendments to ASIC and ABR registers

Source: Modernising Business Registers and Director Identification Numbers legislation

On 1 October 2018, the Treasury released for public consultation exposure drafts of two Bills: the Commonwealth Registers Bill 2018 and the Treasury Laws Amendment (Registries Modernisation and Other Measures) Bill 2018 (together, the Bills).

According to the Explanatory Materials, the Bills propose to:

  • establish a new regime to "facilitate a modern government registry regime that is flexible, technology neutral and governance neutral" by combining information related to 35 existing business registers currently maintained by ASIC and the Australian Business Register; and
  • amend the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) "to introduce a director identification number (DIN) requirement" whereby any "person appointed as a director of a body corporate … must apply for a DIN within 28 days of becoming a director".

Submissions in relation to the Bills will close on 26 October 2018.

Royal Commission - Interim report for Rounds 1-4 released

Source: Interim Report

On 28 September 2018, the Honourable Kenneth Hayne AC QC (Commissioner) released the interim report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Commission) relating to the first four rounds of hearings.

In the interim report, the Commissioner:

  • summarised the misconduct that has been identified and considered by the Commission in each hearing; and
  • identified issues (including potential avenues of reform) that require further consideration prior to the Commissioner's final report being delivered.

Our Royal Commission team has summarised the contents of the interim report which you can read here.

Although the interim report does not cover the fifth and sixth rounds of hearings on superannuation and insurance respectively, these will be dealt with in the final report which is due in February 2019.

In the meantime, the final round of public hearings will take place from 19–30 November 2018, during which the Commission will focus on policy questions arising from the first six rounds of hearings.