New deputy chair for ASIC amid funding boost

  • By Kate Weber

Karen Chester was appointed deputy chair of ASIC as the government remains committed to $70.1 million in funding to support the regulator's new direction.

The additional funding is to support ASIC’s new strategic direction in addressing the misconduct in financial services and to protect consumers.

A further $51.1 million was also granted in funding for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the Federal Court of Australia in a bid to pursue more prosecutions of criminal misconduct and ensure civil claims are dealt with in a timely manner.

Under the new funding arrangements, the government hopes to start significant reforms and ensure ASIC’s has the powers and resources it needs to combat misconduct in the financial services industry and across all corporations for the protection of Australian consumers.

Underfunding and resource limitations have been blamed in the past for ASIC’s disappointing ability to act against the major banks exploiting consumers and suspected misconduct.

At the recent royal commission, ASIC Chair James Shipton blamed a lack of resources as how the regulator failed to address major issues in Australian finance.

Shipton said he felt the level of resources received by ASIC “weighs very heavily on the regulatory choices” because it means that they are “restricted in our ability to take on matters or to pursue matters in a way that we would like to.”

Shipton again noted “resource constraints” as reasons for alleged failings to investigate National Australia ank for its conduct in overseeing the introducer program.

Other recent changes include the appointment of Deputy Chair Daniel Crennan QC in June, working alongside Shipton to mend ASIC’s reputation.

Danielle Press and Sean Hughes have been appointed as two additional Commissioners as well.

Chester had been the deputy chair of the Productivity Commission since May 2016, having been appointed a Commissioner in December 2013.

During this time, she presided on over 10 inquiries and projects including the Commission’s three stage review of the superannuation system.