ASIC is the national regulator of corporations in Australia and is involved at every step of operating a company, from incorporation to liquidation. Understanding how it affects you will help you meet its regulations and protect your business.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission – commonly known as ASIC – is responsible for enforcing and regulating company and financial services laws to protect Australian consumers, investors and creditors. ASIC has strong regulatory powers under the Corporations Act. Whilst ASIC can commence large scale proceedings by enforcing the law against large companies, it can also conduct a wide range of activities outside of enforcement proceedings, including registration of companies, handling of complaints and education.
Understanding ASIC and your role in its activities will make compliance at every stage clearer, and help you comply with your obligations under the law.
Most business owners first come across ASIC at the very start of their Company’s life – incorporation. One of ASIC’s main functions is to provide for the registration and incorporation of all Australian companies, whether they are a large multi-national company or a small not-for-profit. ASIC keeps a record of all companies registered in Australia and registration with ASIC establishes your Company as a separate legal entity.
Once registered, ASIC is responsible for monitoring, investigating and enforcing any breaches of Director’s duties, such as not acting in the best interests of the Company or trading whilst insolvent.
As a Company Director, you have numerous obligations to ASIC. ASIC implements reporting requirements for companies such as lodging annual financial reports, as well as rules surrounding notifying ASIC of any changes including change of address and change of directors. Financial penalties are steep for delays in notifying ASIC of changes.
Did you know that your obligations as a Director may continue after you have resigned or after the company has been wound up? All documents such as applications for voluntary deregistration need to go through ASIC, and if in liquidation, ASIC can still receive misconduct reports from liquidators about Director conduct. A Director has a continuing obligation to assist liquidators otherwise they risk receiving a contravention notice/fine from ASIC.
ASIC’s powers and requirements are complex, and there are harsh penalties for non-compliance. Dealing with ASIC does not need to feel overwhelming. Obtaining legal advice from experienced corporate lawyers can assist your Company and you as a Company Director with maintaining its ongoing obligations with ASIC. Whilst prevention is always the best (and cheapest) solution, the team at Streeterlaw can also assist in tackling any investigative or disciplinary action you may be facing.