Corporate watchdog, ASIC has hit back at recent criticism over its handling of an alleged $110m home loan fraud case, saying the criticisms are “inaccurate and speculative”.
Last week, The Australian
reported that ASIC’s handling of the Footscray Company Myra Home Loan Pty Ltd case involving Najam Shah and Aizaz Hassan was inadequate. The report said Hassan was, until his arrest Tuesday, still operating as a licensed mortgage broker. His license was only cancelled after media coverage of the allegations, the paper claimed.
Following this, senator Sam Dastyari has now called for ASIC to be brought before the Senate economics committee to explain its lag in cracking down on the brokers.
ASIC has now come out in defence by saying it is important for the public to understand that there are very good reasons why it can only provide limited details on criminal investigations and matters before the court.
“While we understand the frustration that this may cause the media, there are very good reasons why ASIC, and other law enforcement bodies, have significant restrictions on what we can disclose in such matters. In some matters such disclosure could jeopardise the entire case. In others it could put people at risk,” the watchdog said.
“We are expressly required to maintain the confidentiality of information we obtain in connection with the exercise of our functions (s 127 ASIC Act).”
In response to the article in The Australian
, ASIC also says – like other law enforcement bodies – it does not as a rule flag an impending arrest to an employer or other related parties.
“To do so would increase the risk of the person of interest being tipped off, even if this was inadvertent. It would potentially place the employer in a compromised position.”
The regulator said it has followed common and carefully developed principles in its investigation and legal actions in the Myra case and it is committed to continue its crackdown on loan fraud to ensure consumers can have trust and confidence in the lending industry.