Corporate watchdog gets enforcement office

ASIC, led by James Shipton, is setting up a new enforcement arm.
ASIC, led by James Shipton, is setting up a new enforcement arm.

A new office of enforcement will be established at Australia's corporate watchdog after the banking royal commission urged the authority to better hold financial misconduct to account.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission has revealed the step in an updated response to the inquiry, which concluded with commissioner Kenneth Hayne handing down his final report this month.

The watchdog says its new Office of Enforcement will be created by the end of 2019, informed by its own review of how it clamps down on poor behaviour, which wound up in December.

ASIC will also have an extra 60 grounds on which it can fine institutions as result of the recommendations of the royal commission.

The watchdog believes that will help deter wrongdoing, alongside the harsher penalties for corporate criminals that cleared federal parliament this week.

Corporate crooks could face 15 years' jail and dodgy companies could be fined more than $500 million under the tough new penalties.

ASIC is already busy dealing with 11 cases that Commissioner Hayne has referred for investigation.

"We have prioritised work on those matters," the watchdog said.

Of the recommendations of the royal commission, 11 were focused on ramping up ASIC's powers and 23 were about imposing new requirements on institutions the watchdog regulates.

All of those will require new legislation.

ASIC has committed to implementing another 12 recommendations that don't need fresh legislation, including subjecting its own top brass to an accountability process.

Australian Associated Press