Australia’s corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has released its Enforcement and Regulatory Update Report for the period October to December 2023 [‘Report’)[i].  The Report reveals ASIC’s focus on protecting consumers and Australians generally by targeting digitally enabled misconduct – including stopping online investment scams at the source and taking down scam websites – as well as a focus on strengthening financial market integrity, insurance institution failures, greenwashing and improving regulatory and legal compliance.

ASIC Chair Joe Longo notes that the current cost of living issues are making customers more vulnerable and susceptible to being lured by predatory scammers and investment scams in particular – with over AU$1.5 billion in investment scam losses reported by Australians during 2022 alone[ii].  ASIC’s Report shows that through its scam website takedown capability[iii], ASIC has taken down almost 3,500 scam websites[iv] during the period of 1 July to 31 December 2023 – thereby stopping those scammers from causing more harm to unsuspecting consumers.

In line with ASIC’s priorities which include protection of consumers, small businesses and investors, ASIC will be turning its particular attention in the coming months to “a broader range of banks and superannuation trustees to ensure they’re doing all they can to protect their members and customers from predatory scammers[v] which will include:-

  • scrutinising the way lenders comply with their hardship obligations;
  • how banks support First Nations consumers to access low-fee accounts; and
  • how superannuation trustees deliver important member services, such as how they handle death benefits claims.[vi]

In addition, in continuing efforts to increase transparency and accountability in financial firms, ASIC will be working together with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to administer the Financial Accountability Regime (FAR) which imposes a strengthened responsibility and accountability framework on APRA-regulated entities in the banking, insurance and superannuation industries, their directors and their most senior executives.[vii]

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for obtaining legal advice.

© Stephens Lawyers & Consultants, 13 March 2024. Authored by Rochina Iannella, Lawyer, Stephens Lawyers & Consultants

For further information contact:

Katarina Klaric, Principal
Stephens Lawyers & Consultants

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[i] ASIC, ‘Report 780: Enforcement and Regulatory Update, October to December 2023’Report REP 780 ASIC enforcement and regulatory update

[ii] Ibid. at Page 8

[iii] ASIC’s scam website takedown capability was launched in July, 2023.

[iv] ASIC, Media Release (24-037MR), ‘ASIC shuts down nearly 3500 scam websites, steps up surveillances in push to protect consumers’ , 4 March 2024; 24-037MR ASIC shuts down nearly 3,500 scam websites, steps up surveillances in push to protect consumers | ASIC

[v] Ibid. per ASIC Chair Joe Longo

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] ASIC, ‘Report 780: Enforcement and Regulatory Update, October to December 2023’; Op Cit. – at Page 16