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ASIC sees heels dragged on breach reports

AAP logoAAP 29/11/2016 Stuart Condie

The financial industry has got better at self-reporting its misdemeanours to the corporate regulator; now it needs to get a little quicker, the head of the corporate watchdog says.

Those licensed to work in Australian financial services are obliged to report breaches of their licences - intentional or otherwise - to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

The big four banks are among those to have immediately self-reported when they have discovered breaches from staff action or systems failings, but it seems not everyone is that conscientious.

"What we've said is 'you've got to report a significant breach' and some people have been a little bit naughty and taken a couple of years to determine whether or not it is significant, which we find interesting," Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman Greg Medcraft said on Tuesday.

"So clearly something needs to be done about breach reporting."

Mr Medcraft, speaking at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia function in Sydney, did not say to whom he was referring.

The government this month released its revised industry funding model for ASIC for consultation.

Under a similar model, ASIC collected $30 million to cover its market supervision over the 2011, 2012 and 2013 financial years, but ended up returning $10 million of that to those it was regulating.

Mr Medcraft said that showed operators in the industry that ASIC was efficient and transparent.

"One of the things I was very keen on was to make sure it was granular enough that entities that do a good job can see the benefits," Mr Medcraft said.

"It's really important that it goes both ways."

Mr Medcraft said ASIC's data analysis capabilities meant criminal activity is increasingly difficult to get away with but, citing the maximum 10-year prison sentence for insider trading, said it was essential that punishments are stiff enough to deter criminal those who are tempted.

"If you think about law enforcement, it's about two things: the probability of getting caught and what happens when you get caught," Mr Medcraft said.

"Penalties frankly ... are critical because white collar criminals are different to blue collar - they actually think about the outcome and if the penalties are not indexed to inflation or they're not a multiple of the gain, people unfortunately will be willing to do the trade."

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