Treasury has released a Position paper: Strengthening penalties for corporate and financial sector misconduct (Paper) for public consultation.  The Paper follows concerns that the penalties in legislation administered by ASIC in the corporate, financial market and financial services sectors may not be effective and do not reflect community perceptions as to the seriousness of engaging in certain forms of misconduct. 

The key positions put in the paper include:

  • expanding the range of civil penalty provisions and increasing the maximum civil penalty amounts in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth);
  • increasing the penalty amounts in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth);  
  • allowing ASIC to seek remedies to remove benefits illegally obtained or losses avoided in civil penalty proceedings brought under the above legislation;
  • increasing maximum terms of imprisonment for a range of offences. The most serious Corporations Act offences will increase to the highest penalties available under the Corporations Act;
  • increasing maximum fine amounts for other criminal offences, and standardising them by reference to a formula based on the length of the available prison term;
  • for strict liability offences, increasing the lowest level fines and allowing ASIC to deal with these offences through the existing penalty notice regime as an alternative to prosecution; and
  • allowing ASIC to deal with a wider range of offences through infringement notice regimes.

See the Treasury website for further information.