Tougher stance: Chairman Greg Medcraft said ASIC’s enforcement actions will be more transparent. Photo: Ben Rushton Tougher stance: Chairman Greg Medcraft said ASIC’s enforcement actions will be more transparent. Photo: Ben Rushton
Tougher stance: Chairman Greg Medcraft said ASIC’s enforcement actions will be more transparent. Photo: Ben Rushton
Change: Chairman Greg Medcraft said ASIC’s enforcement actions will be more transparent. Photo: Ben Rushton
Australia is a “paradise” for white-collar criminals because of its soft punishment of corporate offences, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman, Greg Medcraft, says.
Mr Medcraft said the only realistic response was harsher jail terms and bigger penalties for white-collar crime.
He also repeated calls for a national competency exam for financial advisers in the lead up to a crackdown on the industry and more funding for ASIC to investigate the finance sector, including a user-pays funding model.
Finance industry players were not “Christian soldiers”, Mr Medcraft said on Tuesday, but were motivated by fear and greed.
“You have to lift the fear and suppress the greed,” he said.
“This is a bit of a paradise, Australia, for white collar.
“The thing that scares white-collar criminals is going to jail and that’s what scares them everywhere in the world.”
“The penalties, particularly civil penalties, in Australia for white-collar offences are basically not strong enough, not tough enough. All you’re doing is giving them a slap on the wrist [and] that is not deterring people.”
In the past few years ASIC has come under fire over its handling of scandals at the financial planning arms of the Commonwealth Bank, Macquarie Group, and Storm Financial.
At recent Senate and parliamentary committee inquiries the corporate regulator was accused of being too slow to act against dodgy financial planners, of lacking transparency and being too trusting of big business.
Mr Medcraft admitted ASIC had made mistakes, but said its capacity to investigate and pursue corrupt financial advisers had been curtailed by a lack of resources.
He vowed to be more transparent about ASIC’s enforcement actions and said the regulator would “not be captive to the big end of town”.
“If we want to react faster, then having more resources to be able to do it is important,” he said.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission plans to devote more resources to scrutinising and investigating the financial advisory industry while also forcing the sector to lift its game through better education, monitoring and reporting of breaches.
“One way of lifting resources is to put pressure on them to better police themselves,” Mr Medcraft said.
“You have to try to put more pressure on the people who are supposed to be monitoring the advisers, so our strategy is going to be spending a lot more time putting pressure on their own misconduct and breach reporting.”
Mr Medcraft stepped up calls for a national exam for financial advisers to level the playing field and ensure minimum levels of financial competency.
“At least, pilots have to sit for a competency exam run by CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) – I regard financial advice as just as important,” he said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.