Australian PM calls on regulator to prosecute disgraced bankers
By Alison Bevege
SYDNEY, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Scott
Morrison said on Sunday it was up to the country's financial
regulator to prosecute bankers following the release of a
scathing report which found some institutions had pursued profit
at the expense of honesty.
In almost 60 days of public hearings since February an
inquiry into the financial sector heard instances of bribery,
fraud, fee-gouging and board-level deception across the
Some of the more shocking allegations included the charging
of fees to dead people and the aggressive selling of a
complicated insurance product to a boy with Down Syndrome over
Morrison told Australian Broadcasting Corp television on
Sunday that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission
(ASIC) had previously been too shy in prosecuting.
"Now ASIC, I think has been found wanting ... I’m glad we’ve
increased its powers, its penalties, its resources and in
particular its focus on prosecution," he said.
Morrison said he expected ASIC to take action against
disgraced bankers following the release of the Royal
Commission's interim report on Friday.
"I mean, that's the job of ASIC. It’s ASIC’s job."
ASIC said in a statement on Friday that it would work
towards building a system of tougher penalties.
ASIC senior executive leader of corporate affairs Matthew
Abbott said on Sunday that the regulator had a mandate to
prosecute through the courts and had criminally convicted more
than 160 people in the seven years since July 2011.
"Over that time we have also secured compensation of A$1.82
billion ($1.32 billion) for investors and consumers," he said in
a statement emailed to Reuters.
The ASIC had also completed civil proceedings against more
than 140 people, and removed more than 840 other people and
companies from the financial services industry.
Australia's government proposed new laws last year to
increase penalties and lengthen prison terms for financial
crimes in a bid to strengthen the regulator's enforcement
($1 = 1.3833 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Alison Bevege; Editing by Michael Perry)
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