Extra funding for banking prosecutions

Banks and financial institutions could face further and faster prosecution

Extra funding for banking prosecutions


By Rebecca Pike

Banks and financial institutions who commit criminal misconduct could face further prosecution thanks to additional funding from the government.

An additional $51.5million has been provided to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) and the Federal Court of Australia.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s (ASIC) was given extra funding from the government earlier this year allowing for increased enforcement activity.

This increased activity is expected to give rise to more prosecutions by the CDPP and more civil corporate misconduct cases before the Federal Court, including cases highlighted by the royal commission.

As part of this, the latest funding will see $41.6m provided to the CDPP over eight years, to consider more prosecutions put forward by ASIC and hire additional prosecutors to manage the increased caseload. It will also allow the CDPP to prosecute cases faster.

A further $9.9m will also be provided to the Federal Court of Australia over four years to fund the appointment of additional resources including two new judges to support civil cases.

The appointments will enable the Federal Court to accommodate an increase in disputes with financial institutions as well as civil claims resulting from ASIC’s increased enforcement activity.

The government has also asked the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) to conduct a review of whether the Federal Court’s criminal jurisdiction should be expanded to include corporate crime.

Any criminal prosecutions for misconduct by banks and other financial institutions are currently heard in state courts and hence have to compete with state cases for resources and scheduling.

The creation of an additional criminal jurisdiction in the Federal Court would allow these prosecutions to be prioritised and penalties for breaches of the law to be handed out faster.

 The AGD will consult with relevant stakeholders including the states in undertaking the review and provide its report to the government in January next year.

Also, the government will establish a Committee of Regulatory Enforcement Strategy chaired by the AGD and comprising representatives from the relevant agencies that regulate the financial services sector.

These agencies will meet on a regular basis to discuss enforcement matters in the sector and provide feedback to the government on regulatory and civil enforcement policy.

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