A parliamentary committee has grilled the corporate regulator around whether it had reluctance to take on the major banks following the Hayne royal commission interim findings.
Speaking at a parliamentary joint committee hearing on ASIC oversight, Labor senator Chris Ketter noted to ASIC chair Chris Shipton that, of the 1,102 proceedings between 1 January 2008 and 30 May 2018, only 10 of those were against the major banks in that time.
He continued that of those 10, three were to Storm Financial and four to the bank bill swap rate manipulation, leaving three other proceedings affecting the major banks.
“Did ASIC have a reticence to take on the major banks?” Mr Ketter asked.
“The statistics are clearly there, and that is something that is, in part, triggering our enforcement review,” Mr Shipton responded.
“That is an important question. You are right to ask it. The royal commission is right to ask it. We are working to make sure that we have a very credible, robust and responsive answer. We want, and we intend to have, real deterrents when it comes to the big financial institutions.
“You can be absolutely assured that those terms of reference have been informed, enhanced and improved by the important questions, recommendations and observations of the royal commission.”
Mr Ketter then asked ASIC deputy chair Peter Kell the same question.
“Sure. I would say upfront that we accept that we need to have a greater focus in our litigation against the major institutions,” Mr Kell said.
“We have had a focus on seeking to change the way those businesses operate, get them to remove poor financial advisers and remediate their consumers where problems have emerged and so on.
“But I accept that that hasn't always been accompanied by court-based litigation. As you have heard, that is an area where we need to increase our focus.”
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