ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft says addressing culture and conduct at Australia's big banks will remain unfinished business when his term ends in November. The corporate regulator took aim at the nation's four major banks on Tuesday, saying they were very powerful with "a lot of hubris" and were "not used to being taken on" by regulators
Mr Medcraft, who was speaking at a Reuters event in Sydney, said he was "not scared of anybody" as he emphasised the need for bigger penalties for white-collar criminals.A 2014 Senate inquiry stated that ASIC was perceived to be "timid" and "hesitant". It was also seen as weaker compared with Western regulators in terms of the small fines it levied and other penalties it imposed.
ASIC is now trying to rebuild confidence, in part by taking three of Australia's biggest banks - ANZ Banking Group, Westpac Banking Corp and National Australia Bank - to court after failing to reach a settlement over allegations of benchmark interest rate rigging.
The latest incident to rock Australia's highly profitable "Big Four" banks is potentially the worst, with CBA accused last month by the nation's financial intelligence agency of allowing criminals to launder millions of dollars.
"I think the big banks are extremely powerful in this country," Mr Medcraft said.
"There is still a major problem with culture, conduct and accountability at the major banks.
ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft says he is "not scared of anybody" as he emphasised the need for bigger penalties for white-collar criminals. Photo: Christopher Pearce
"When I became chairman I decided we need to build a war chest to take on big cases ... I am not scared of anybody."This article was first published by http://www.smh.com.auAuthor: Reuters and AAP