The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) is set to increase penalties for corporate and financial sector misconduct to deter the fines being seen as the cost of doing business.
The impact of the proposed changes would be to expand the range of civil penalty provisions and to increase maximum civil penalty amounts in the Corporations Act 2001 and National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Credit Act) to:
· for individuals, 2,500 penalty units ($525,000); and
· for corporations, the greater of: 12,500 penalty units ($2.625 million), or three times the benefit gained (or loss avoided) or 10% annual turnover.
This would mean increases from $200,000 (individuals) and $1 million (corporations) in the Corporations Act and 2,000 penalty units ($420,000) for individuals and 10,000 penalty units ($2.1 million) for corporations in the Credit Act.
ASIC is also seeking to expand its powers to enable it to remove benefits illegally obtained or losses avoided.
Maximum terms of imprisonment would also be increased for a range of offences to the highest maximum penalty available; 10 years imprisonment and substantial fines.