ASIC Steps up Market Supervision Amid COVID-19

The regulator wants to protect consumers who may be vulnerable to COVID-19 related scams.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has given more detailed information as to which of its activities will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, as the regulator shifts its priorities.

As the Aussie regulator deals with COVID-19 and tries to ensure the integrity of its markets, ASIC will be deferring some of its activities and reassign some of its staff to address issues of immediate concern.

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According to the statement released by the authority, it has delayed a number of activities that are not immediately necessary, such as consultations, regulatory reports, and reviews.

Furthermore, the regulator outlined that onsite supervisory work, such as the enhanced approach of ASIC’s Close and Continuous Monitoring Program, is now not possible. Instead, the agency will continue to monitor firms remotely.

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ASIC protects against market abuse

In response to COVID-19, ASIC has stepped up its market supervision to ensure its markets remain fair and orderly, in order to ensure that investors are appropriately informed and protect against market abuse, the statement released today said.

The Australian watchdog will increase its support for consumers who may be vulnerable to scams and will identify further actions that are needed to support firms such as facilitating the timely completion of capital raisings and other urgent transactions.

Commenting on the situation, ASIC Chair James Shipton said in the statement: “ASIC recognises that participants in the Australian financial services sector are under enormous strain due to the effects of COVID-19. We also acknowledge that they are taking special measures to support their customers who are adversely affected. We expect them to continue to act fairly and in the best interest of consumers in these extraordinary times.

“To assist firms, ASIC will limit the regulatory activity that they will need to respond to as much as possible. We are also working with the financial industry to identify other areas where we can provide support.”

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