Australia

Officers should face civil sanctions for poor firm culture, says ASIC

ASIC continues to reshape its approach to enforcement, with the focus on disclosure having shifted sharply in the last year to a focus on delivering better consumer outcomes. In the last 12 months, we have been discussing ASIC’s use of behavioural economic theory and the spectre of UK regulation that underpins ASIC’s drive towards product … Continue Reading

Digital Currency Regulation – Australian Senate Recommendations

The Australian Senate Economics Reference Committee released its long-awaited report into the digital currencies on 4 August 2015. Digital currencies and blockchain technology is hot news. For many, the blockchain sensation is reminiscent of the early days of the internet.  We have even seen trialling of blockchain technology and some bitcoin sector investment by Australian … Continue Reading

Global corporate governance standards for banks – Australian perspectives

On 8 July the Basel Committee (BIS) issued a paper setting out 13 corporate governance principles for banks. These principles supersede the 2010 BIS principles and are to be applied and adapted by national bank regulators as they see fit.  This work has been some time in the making with a peer review conducted by … Continue Reading

Privilege and internal investigations

Conducting investigations into allegations of regulatory breaches, fraud or corruption can present serious legal and commercial risk if privilege cannot be asserted over the findings of those investigations. That risk may be compounded if boards choose to conduct such investigations in-house, often with compliance managers or in-house counsel reporting the findings of those investigations directly … Continue Reading

Italy and the Netherlands join the blog

Our Regulation tomorrow blog goes from strength to strength, with the addition of Italy and the Netherlands to our existing coverage of Africa, Asia, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.  EU-level updates will also be featured on our Italian, Dutch and UK pages. New blog posts from Italy and the Netherlands include: Italy: … Continue Reading

New ‘Significant Investor’ Visa regime

The new framework for the Significant Investor (SIV) and Premium Investor (PIV) programmes has now been implemented and is effective from 1 July 2015. The SIV programme provides the opportunity for foreign persons to obtain an Australian visa by investing at least AUD$5 million over four years in complying Australian investments. In order to comply … Continue Reading

Insurers “strongly encouraged” to improve disclosure of prudential matters

On 22 June 2015, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released a letter to all Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of general insurers, Level 2 insurance groups and life companies (collectively, the insurers) encouraging them to adopt better public disclosure practices for prudential matters. The current capital adequacy framework for insurers is based on a three … Continue Reading

Credit cards to improve travel insurance disclosure

Credit card providers have agreed to provide customers with clearer information regarding when ‘complimentary’ travel insurance is activated and to what extent cover is provided. Many credit card holders have access to ‘complimentary’ travel insurance. However, many of these do not know that they have the benefit of cover, how to activate it, how it … Continue Reading

Super fraud – APRA releases guidance on prevention and response

On 10 June 2015, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released the final version of its Superannuation Prudential Practice Guide SPG 223 – Fraud Risk Management (SPG 223) following consultation with industry conducted in October 2014. As with other prudential practice guides released by APRA, SPG 223 is a non-binding document which sets out APRA’s … Continue Reading

General insurance distributors breathe sigh of relief

In a move likely to be welcomed by the general insurance industry, ASIC has proposed to maintain the relief provided for distributors of general insurance products. A few short years after the introduction of the new financial services regime in Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), ASIC began to appreciate the special nature … Continue Reading

Reinsurance in a world of natural disasters

With the flood of recent natural disasters, APRA has clarified the type of aggregate reinsurance arrangements that require its approval.  Accordingly, it is timely for insurers to review their reinsurance arrangements to determine whether such approval is required. In recent years, Australia and New Zealand have amply demonstrated their propensity for catastrophic losses flowing from … Continue Reading

Financial Institutions Symposium hosted by Norton Rose Fulbright in Sydney

Technology-led innovation has the potential to truly disrupt existing business models and distribution channels in the financial services industry. In Australia and more broadly, we have seen start-ups build innovative payment systems, peer-to-peer lending platforms, crypto-currencies, robo-advice and automated investment management. However, the large institutions are well capitalised, have large customer bases and are adapting … Continue Reading

Financial Services Tomorrow…

We are on the cusp of a new era in the evolution of the financial services industry. New technology, data analytics and behavioural economics are promising to revolutionise the customer experience. If the regulators remove the regulatory barriers, then using multi-media to deliver mandated and voluntary disclosure in different formats and through different devices will … Continue Reading

Regulatory disruption

Technology led innovation can cause much indigestion for conduct and prudential regulators as they try to find the right regulatory pigeion hole for innovators in their regimes that were not built to handle such innovation.  It is this disruptive impact of innovation that is shaping the regulation of tomorrow. Numerous conduct regulators around the world have acknowledged that a mandatory … Continue Reading

Innovation and Disruption

Financial Institution Symposium  Technology-led innovation has the potential to truly disrupt existing business models and distribution channels in the financial services industry. In Australia and more broadly, we have seen start-ups build innovative payment systems, peer-to-peer lending platforms, crypto-currencies, robo-advice and automated investment management. However, the large institutions are well capitalised, have large customer bases … Continue Reading

Court finds unconscionable conduct in sale of CCI

Recent enforcement action by ASIC against collapsed payday lender, the Cash Store Pty Ltd (TCS), has put the sale of consumer credit insurance (CCI) into sharp focus. On 19 February 2015, the Federal Court awarded penalties against TCS and its loan funder, Assistive Finance Australia Pty Ltd (AFA) of almost $19 million. It found that … Continue Reading

ASIC-run home insurance comparison website opens for business

The Federal Government’s novel approach to tackling housing insurance affordability issues in North Queensland continued this week with the unveiling of ASIC’s home insurance comparison website. Replete with disclaimers and emphasising product features over policy price, the website is intended to aid consumer understanding and decrease underinsurance in a market struggling under flood and wind … Continue Reading

ASIC runs over No Claims Discount schemes

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has continued its campaign for improved disclosure by insurers and their agents – this time in the motor vehicle insurance sphere. On 26 February 2015, ASIC published a report that examines the operation of no-claims discount (NCD) schemes for motor vehicle insurance and concluded that the schemes do not … Continue Reading

Enforceable undertakings – ASIC to make experts’ findings available to the public

On 19 February 2015, we reported on ASIC enforcement actions in the second half of 2014. ASIC has since updated its regulatory guidance on enforceable undertakings (RG 100).  The updated guidance will apply to enforceable undertakings accepted by ASIC from 9 March 2015. The changes made to the guidance centre primarily around the engagement of experts … Continue Reading

Australia’s bribery and corruption regulator flexing its powers: a ‘wake-up call’ to company directors

For the second time ever, the Australian Federal Police have laid bribery and corruption charges against directors of an Australian company. Unlike their regulator counterparts in the US and UK, the AFP have until now, been very reluctant to exercise their anti-bribery powers, but with a reported further 14 active foreign bribery investigations at the moment … Continue Reading

ASIC enforcement actions Q4 2014: is an increase in penalties on the cards?

ASIC has recently released its quarterly enforcement report detailing enforcement outcomes between 1 July 2014 and 31 December 2014.  The report addresses the range of criminal and civil action taken by the regulator, and highlights action taken against companies and directors resulting in criminal charges which were most significant during the period. In addition, significant … Continue Reading

Australian government announces tightened rules around foreign investment in Australian agricultural land

On 11 February 2015, the Australian government announced that it would be changing the threshold for notifications of agricultural land purchases by foreign investors from $252 million to $15 million from 1 March 2015. Existing investments included in the threshold The new $15 million threshold is a cumulative threshold – it applies to a foreign … Continue Reading

ASIC not content with home and contents insurance

A spate of natural disasters in recent years has revealed a concerning level of underinsurance in the home and contents insurance market, according to reports released by ASIC in late 2014. ASIC has called on insurance providers ‘to implement measures that will meaningfully improve consumers’ understanding of their policy, and help ensure consumers buy a … Continue Reading

ASIC issues long awaited guidance on when an OTC derivative is “entered into” in Australia

On 2 February 2015, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (“ASIC”) issued a class exemption which seeks to provide guidance to foreign entities about when they will be regarded as having “entered into” an OTC derivative in Australia for the purposes of the ASIC Derivative Transaction Rules (Reporting) 2013 (“Australian DTRs”), as such OTC derivatives … Continue Reading
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