The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is Australia’s principal corporate regulator. It regulates corporations, managed investment schemes, participants in the financial services industry and people engaged in credit activities under a number of Commonwealth laws.
These laws include the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act) and the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (National Credit Act).
ASIC is authorised to prosecute some minor regulatory offences on its own behalf, however it often refers criminal matters the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP). The CDPP then decides whether to prosecute the matter. The CDPP have specialist prosecutors who deal with commercial offences, including fraud offences under state or territory law.
If ASIC suspects someone of breaching a law that is under the regulatory power to enforce, then penalties can be enforced either in the criminal jurisdiction or civil jurisdiction. Civil matters have a lower standard if proof than criminal matters, as the consequences of a criminal conviction are more serious (e.g., a jail sentence).