The announcement by ASIC on Monday 23 March 2020 that it is recalibrating its regulatory priorities to focus on COVID-19 challenges is a welcome relief to the finance industry in these challenging times.
ASIC states that it will now afford priority to matters where there is the risk of significant consumer harm, serious breaches of the law, risks to market integrity and time-critical matters.
ASIC announced that it has:
“immediately suspended a number of near-term activities which are not time-critical. These include consultation, regulatory reports and reviews, such as the ASIC report on executive remuneration, updated internal dispute resolution guidance and a consultation paper on managed discretionary accounts”
Stakeholders will be shortly be notified of the deferrals and new arrangements.
ASIC also announced that it will:
- suspend its enhanced on-site supervisory work such as the Close and Continuous Monitoring Program;
- be mindful of the difficulties encountered by firms in complying with their regulatory obligations due to the impact of COVID-19 and work constructively and pragmatically with those firms, and
- provide relief or waivers from regulatory requirements where warranted.
While ASIC will continue with its enforcement activities, it will focus on action necessary to prevent immediate consumer harm, “egregious” illegal conduct and other time critical matters. The expression “egregious” means “outstandingly bad – shocking”
Only time will tell whether ASIC actually “walks the talk”