Monday, 3 November 2014

ASIC white-collar crime data ‘tip of the iceberg’ in Australia

THE chairman of the corporate regulator fired a shot across the bow of policymakers this week, describing Australia as a “paradise” for white-collar criminals due to lax penalties.

“In Australia, it’s worth breaking the law to do the trade — it’s a big problem,” Greg Medcraft told a business lunch on Tuesday. “Civil penalties for white-collar offences are just not strong enough.” The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is the body that regulates the financial market and acts as the first line of defence in policing white-collar crimes.

Mr Medcraft, whose comments represent the latest step in a bitter dance between the financial industry and its watchdog, said consumers needed to be “extremely careful” when dealing with financial planners. Ian Ramsay, director of the Centre for Corporate Law and Securities Regulation in Melbourne, agrees with Mr Medcraft’s comments.

He says that while ASIC has become increasingly effective in policing the market, their data on white collar crime represents the “tip of the iceberg”. “There’s a whole lot of stuff that inevitably goes undetected,” Mr Ramsay told

So what does white collar crime actually involve?

Professor Fiona Haines from The University of Melbourne says that regulators have long struggled with a classification scheme — by its very nature it is designed to exist in the shadows of the corporate world. “Defining white collar crime is very difficult,” she said.

Nevertheless, here is your need-to-know guide on some of the types of white collar crime Australia must be tougher on.

Read on . . . .