ASIC's enforcement report for July to December 2017, released yesterday, shows 25 per cent of all enforcement activity in the financial services space was remedied through civil proceedings, while a further 8 per cent resulted in criminal proceedings.
The figures also showed that dishonest conduct and misleading statements were the primary reason ASIC took action against financial services providers, accounting for 37 per cent of all misconduct.
Credit-related misconduct was a close second, accounting for a further 32 per cent of misconduct addressed by the regulator, with the remaining 31 per cent listed as “other financial services misconduct”.
During the period covered in the report, ASIC banned or restricted 54 parties from providing financial services, commenced 63 investigations, completed 61, accepted 12 enforceable undertakings, and saw $94.4 million in compensation and remediation paid to investors and consumers.
ASIC added that over the next six months it will have a particular focus on compliance with advisers’ best interests duty, Australian Financial Services licencees (AFSLs) claiming personal advice to be general advice for the purposes of reducing compliance burden, and firms charging for advice that has not been given.
ASIC's compliance activity captures professionals operating under a financial services licence, including accountants. The corporate regulator has stressed on several occasions that it will be monitoring accountants with a limited AFSL in particular, to capture incidences of advice which are not permitted without a full AFSL.