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Lawyers in ASIC firing line

Lawyers in ASIC firing line

The Australian Securities Investment Commission's (ASIC) new head Greg Medcraft has declared that financial gatekeepers, including lawyers, will be pursued in his bid to clean up corporate…

The Australian Securities Investment Commission's (ASIC) new head Greg Medcraft has declared that financial gatekeepers, including lawyers, will be pursued in his bid to clean up corporate Australia.

Medcraft took over as head of the corporate watchdog earlier this month. He is only the second non-lawyer to head up the Commission and its predecessor bodies, and has formally served as the chief executive officer of the Australian Securitisation Forum and as an investment banker with Société Générale in Australia.

In his first broadcast interview since taking the top job, he told ABC Radio's AM that ASIC is intensifying its investigations of private practice and corporate lawyers and auditors, and gave a warning to "corporate crooks".

"If you've broken the law and we discover it or we're told about it, we will come after you," he said.

He told the ABC that wrongdoers will be pursued via a number of different investigative channels including ASIC's existing contacts, its call centre that receives "several million calls a year" and via surveillance - including the "reasonable" use of phone and wire taps and email intercepts.

He added that corporate Australia needs to focus more on ethics and "doing the right thing".

Medcraft was unavailable for comment when Lawyers Weekly contacted his office today. However, an interview has been requested for later in the week.

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