The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has announced its corporate plan for 2019-2023.  The corporate plan reflects the shift in ASIC’s focus towards litigation and prosecution.  Directors, companies and corporate officers must be vigilant to protect their business in the face of investigations.

The corporate plan sets out a number of strategic initiatives that ASIC will continue to implement and reflects the commitment by ASIC to implement the Financial Services Royal Commission recommendations.

The plan reflects a policy change through the proposed ‘Why not litigate?’ operational discipline. ASIC’s enforcement work will now be guided by the ‘Why not litigate’ operational discipline. It says that this policy reflects community expectations that unlawful conduct should be punished.  ASIC has stated their commitment to increasing and accelerating their enforcement work. This will likely result in a significant increase in the number of prosecutions being conducted by ASIC through the criminal court process.

The corporate plan also reflects the role of the newly created Office of Enforcement which commenced on 1 July 2019. The Office of Enforcement will be responsible for most important enforcement matters across the Commission and monitor and report on ASIC’s enforcement activities.

There remain important investigatory and decision making processes which ASIC undertake before a decision to litigate or a referral to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute will be made. A shift in ASICs focus towards prosecuting and litigating corporate crime will mean that companies, directors and corporate officers who are contacted by ASIC should seek advice from experienced corporate crime lawyers at the earliest opportunity in order to ensure that the impact on their business is minimised.

To learn more about the ASIC prosecution process and powers, please read our ASIC page and download our factsheet on the process.