Banks to pay $120m to beef up ASIC

Banks will cough up $120 million to beef up the corporate regulator.

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Treasurer Scott Morrison says taxpayers will no longer be forced to foot the bill for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, as it moves to a user-pays model.

“Those whom it’s enforcing the regulations and rules on will pay the price for that,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Mr Morrison said ASIC would get a $61 million boost for enhanced data analytics and surveillance capabilities.

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“In the 21st century economy, you need a tech cop on the beat,” he said.

ASIC will also get $57 million for increased surveillance, investigation and prosecution capacity to pursue cases.

ASIC boss Greg Medcraft’s term has been extended for 18 months and the government has also appointed an additional commissioner to ASIC with special expertise in prosecution.

“We want an ASIC that leans forward and we want an ASIC that actually prosecutes and takes those matters up,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said he would be “furious” if the banks passed the additional costs onto consumers through higher fees and charges.

“(These levies are) easily digestible by the banks and must be and should be.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the banks would be popping champagne corks because the government won’t force them to a royal commission.

“Asking the regulator to investigate themselves isn’t going to fix anything,” he told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

But Labor won’t let the issue go, with Mr Shorten convinced the only way to extract the truth about the widespread problems was a royal commission.

Labor MP Ed Husic accused the government of announcing $120 million of “hush money”.