Australian regulator: Oz financial markets are behaving themselves better

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s most recent report into market integrity has founds that Australia’s financial markets are behaving better now than they were 10 years ago.

In its most recent twice-yearly report, covering the period running from January to August 2016, ASIC found that “information leakage and insider information ahead of material, price-sensitive announcements had declined over the past 10 years”, as financial services industry players raised their game.

In a statement, ASIC Commissioner Cathie Armour said there had been a “gradual improvement in market cleanliness indicators over time and across different segments of Australia’s listed equities markets”, and that the commission would “continue to monitor market cleanliness, and enhance our surveillance and enforcement capabilities to ensure our markets are fair and efficient”.

ASIC said there had been 15 “enforcement outcomes” during the six months to June 2016, including for an undisclosed number for insider trading. “Criminal sentences” in these cases, it noted, “demonstrated the seriousness of this crime”.

During the time period covered, ASIC also commenced civil penalty proceedings against Australia and New Zealand Banking Group  (ANZ), Westpac Banking Corporation and National Australia Bank Ltd., alleging “unconscionable conduct and market manipulation in setting the Bank Bill Swap Rate from 2010–12”. The cases are currently before the courts, ASIC said.

Over the next 12 months, ASIC said, the areas it plans to focus on with respect to marketplace integrity will include cyber resilience, handling of confidential information, and conduct risk.

It said it is asking industry firms to review their sell-side and corporate advisory practices to ensure they meet regulatory requirements.

ASIC’s Market Integrity Group, which carries out the market integrity reports for ASIC, is responsible for ensuring that Australia’s licensed markets are being run fairly and efficiently.

The latest market integrity report consists of a short video and a webpage. To access these, click here. 

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