“Much of the criticism directed at ASIC comes from elements within the corporate sector which have a vested interest in undermining ASIC’s role. Without ASIC, the Australian corporate scene would have a far lower standard of management and directors, and accordingly the corporate sector’s status within, and contribution to, the Australian economy would be inferior, to say the least.”
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the main regulator of companies and the body responsible for carrying out the administrative functions set out in the Corporations Act. ASIC’s operations fall within the Ministerial responsibility of the Commonwealth Treasurer. It is an independent Commonwealth Government body which was set up under and operates under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act (ASIC Act). ASIC is Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services regulator since January 1991. ASIC contributes to Australia’s economic reputation and wellbeing by ensuring that Australia’s financial markets are fair and transparent, supported by confident and informed investors and consumers.
The contributions that Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 make to the corporate sector are as follows:
• maintain, facilitate and improve the performance of the financial system and entities in it
• promote confident and informed participation by investors and consumers in the financial system
• administer the law effectively and with minimal procedural requirements
• enforce and give effect to the law
ASIC can enforce the law by taking certain administrative action (for example; revoking a licence or issuing a banning order), by bringing an action for the breach of the civil penalty provisions, by bringing civil proceeding s under s50 of the ASIC Act on behalf of persons harmed by breaches of the Corporations Act, or by referring a breach to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for criminal prosecution.
Investigation of the breaches of Law: ASIC has both informal and formal powers to investigate suspected breaches of the Corporations Act. Often, these investigations occur as a result of a person complaining to ASIC.
• receive, process and store, efficiently and quickly, information that is given to it
• make information about companies and other bodies available to the public as soon as practicable.
ASIC issues regulatory guides and other publications designed to help people understand and comply with the Corporations Act.
ASIC regulates Australian companies, financial markets, financial services organisations and professionals who deal and advise in investments, superannuation, insurance, deposit taking and credit.
ASIC acts as the consumer credit regulator, by licensing and regulating people and businesses engaging in consumer credit activities (including banks, credit unions, finance companies, and mortgage and finance brokers). ASIC ensures that licensees meet the standards - including their responsibilities to consumers - that are set out in the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009. As the markets regulator, ASIC also assess how effectively authorised financial markets are complying with their legal obligations to operate fair, orderly and transparent markets. As the financial services regulator, ASIC licenses and monitors financial services businesses to ensure that they operate efficiently, honestly and fairly. These businesses typically deal in superannuation, managed funds, shares and company securities, derivatives, and insurance.
As the key regulator in the securities market, ASIC has a range of powers both under the Corporations Act and the ASIC Act. Some of the facilitative, regulatory and enforcement powers that ASIC makes use of perform its role are as follows:
• register companies and managed investment schemes
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