Banks to pay $120m to strengthen the corporate cop

Australia’s banks will be forking out the cash for ASIC’s investigation into them. Photo: Cameron Spencer/ Getty Images.

The corporate watchdog ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) is getting $127 million in extra funding so it can investigate misconduct in the banks.

The new program is the federal government’s response to Labor’s plan for a two-year royal commission into the banks if it is elected.

The banks themselves will fund $121 million of the program in the form of a levy over four years.

Treasurer Scott Morrison warned the banks about trying to pass on the levy to customers.

“I would be furious if I thought this was being sought to be passed on,” he told a media briefing.

The government says ASIC will be better equipped with stronger powers and funding to combat misconduct in Australia’s financial services industry.

“The trust that Australians and the broader financial community and investors can put in the system is critical to our Australian economy,” says Morrison.

“When you address matters in your banking and financial system, you do it in a disciplined way, you do it in an order, way, you don’t do it in a reckless or popularist way, you do it in with way that addresses the very real issues that have to be considered in these matters.”

The funding will include $61 million for data analytics and surveillance capabilities and $57 million for increased surveillance and investigation.

ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft’s term has been extended for 18 months.

An additional commissioner with experience in the prosecution of crimes in the financial services industry will be appointed.

Medcraft welcomed the government’s support for the introduction of an industry funding model.

“ASIC has long believed that those who generate the need for regulation should pay for it,” says Medcraft.