Founding ACCC chair says ASIC is ineffective

The founding chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – Professor Allan Fels – says the corporate regulator is too soft in fighting bank misconduct.

Mr Fels says the Australian Securities and Investments Commission should lose its supervisory powers over the banks and hand them to the ACCC.

“ASIC is not feared, unlike the ACCC,” he told the ABC.

“The ACCC had a long-running culture of without fear or favour law enforcement.”

“The ACCC is a very serious organization. It’s been around for a long time with an unequivocal commitment to law enforcement.”

Mr Fels didn’t stop there. The former ACCC chairman told the ABC’s AM program that he backs the Greens call to break up the big banks and AMP.

The Commonwealth Bank and ANZ have already started to sell off their wealth management arms in the wake of the banking royal commission but Mr Fels says just leaving it up to the market to fix itself won’t be enough.

“I’m not sure we can rely at this point on the market to deliver the result we want,” he said.

“I have been shocked. The royal commission has dug quite deep and found deep-seeded unethical and possibly illegal behavior and that has shocked the whole community.”

Mr Fels’ comments come as ASIC announced it will embed enforcement staff in banks to overlook proceedings and assess culture, accountability and governance by the end of the month.

“We’re going to start with headquarters,” ASIC boss James Shipton told ABC’s World Today.

“We’ll start with the leadership group, because the initial focus is going to be around governance structures, particularly reporting structures of misconduct and conduct that doesn’t meet community expectations.”

ASIC will be handed a $70 million budget boost from the Federal Government and Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer is confident it can do the job.

“These new resources will ensure that ASIC is the tough cop on the beat – the tough cop that all Australians need,” she said.


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