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As part of ASIC’s long term objective to ensure Investor and financial consumer trust and confidence, it has set a specific objective to focus on “gatekeeper” conduct of those who have legal responsibility in Australia’s financial system.

This objective, along with several others, has been set out in ASIC’s recently released 2015-16 to 2018-19 Corporate Plan.

Included in ASIC’s definition of who are the gatekeepers are insolvency practitioners.

ASIC holds the view that “Poor conduct by gatekeepers, such as directors, auditors and insolvency practitioners, or their failure to identify and report inappropriate conduct of principals, continues to jeopardise market integrity and investor outcomes.”  Accordingly, over the next four years ASIC intends to review “high-risk insolvency practitioners with a particular focus on independence (including in relation pre-insolvency advisers), competence and improper gain (including remuneration).”

Some of the concerns raised in support of this gatekeeper focus extends to what is sees as a perceived systematic non-compliance with statutory lodgement obligations by some insolvency practitioners.  ASIC’s apparent dim view of gatekeepers also extends to gatekeepers’ inadequate management of conflicts of interest arising from remuneration and the misuse of role for improper gain.

To assist insolvency practitioners in ensuring that they do not fall foul of ASIC’s attention, the Australian Restructuring Insolvency & Turnaround Association holds Professional standards training sessions for its membership on remuneration, independence and in the preparation of section 439A reports.  If you or a member of your firm hasn’t been to one of these sessions, as someone who has, I strongly recommend that you do.

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