Many people around the world will be familiar with the storied ASICS trainer, the Japanese produced shoes being widespread in many sports famous for their quality, performance and reasonable prices. The same cannot be said for the similarly named Australian securities industry regulator ASIC (short for Australian Securities and Investments Commission) which in the last week has faced an array of criticism on many fronts. Given the looming slowdown and the need for a strong regulator to coordinate the Australian investment markets, recent releases do not seem to bode well for the medium term.
So first up the ASIC head Greg Medcraft defending the body's handling of foreign bribery allegations involving a large Australian construction firm:
Last month, Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt said his party would ask ASIC to explain to Federal Parliament why it had "failed to investigate serious and repeated claims of illegality within the RBA's corporate activities".And then, there was that story about investors not having knowledge of an ASIC investigation (not that it would be for investors to get information in a timely manner or anything). Link here. But of more concern perhaps is the exemption ASIC granted for big banks reporting their derivative transactions - a reasonable allowance or a weak regulator? Certainly it is likely the regulator is to face more criticism if the state of the markets worsens.
ASIC has also been criticised for not investigating allegations Leighton Holdings used bribery to win an oil pipeline contract in Iraq.
In a fiery speech titled Setting The Record Straight, chairman Greg Medcraft on Friday said it was the role of police to investigate such matters and hit out at "ill-informed" media coverage of the regulator's role investigating the allegations.(here).