The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) may soon have the capacity to pursue harsher civil penalties and criminal sanctions against banks, their executives and others who breach corporate and financial services law. 

The recent passing of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Strengthening Corporate and Financial Sector Penalties) Bill 2018 by the Senate means that ASIC will soon be able to pursue harsher civil and criminal penalties and sanctions for breaches of the Corporations Act and financial services laws.

Following amendment by the Senate, the Bill passed with 35 amendments. Features include:

• civil penalties with an increased maximum of up to $525 million (2.5 million penalty units) for companies;

• maximum jail sentences increased to 15 years for serious offences, including breaches of directors’ duties, false or misleading disclosure and dishonest conduct;

• the introduction of new civil penalties for contraventions such as failures by licensees to act efficiently, honestly and fairly, failures to report breaches and defective disclosure; and

• maximum civil penalties for individuals to increase to $1.05 million and these can also take into account profits made.

More information is available here.