Australia: Final Report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry released

The Final Report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Hayne Report) was released to the public on 4 February 2019. The Federal Government has agreed to take action on all 76 recommendations contained in the Hayne Report, and in a number of areas has indicated it intends to go further, including conducting an immediate review of financial counselling services.  Herbert Smith Freehills have prepared a briefing paper which identifies the following key themes and reforms contained within the Hayne Report:

  1. Governance overhaul – Boards will need to exercise greater scrutiny over their governance systems, policies and procedures;
  2. Conflicts – a number of the changes proposed are designed to alter the objective from one of ‘managing’ to one of ‘eliminating’ conflicts of interest;
  3. Individual accountability – the proposed changes to remuneration and accountability regimes are significant, with individuals to be held to account more than ever before for the adequacy of complex systems, policies and procedures;
  4. Principles not prescription – the Hayne Report observes that prescriptive laws which are vast and complex may be less effective than statements of broad matters of principle, suggesting that now may be an apt time to revisit the current approach to regulation of the provision of financial services within Australia;
  5. Enforcement revolution – above all, the Hayne Report recommends greater personal accountability coupled with stronger regulators with an incentive to investigate and hold wrongdoers to account, making for an ‘enforcement revolution’. Organisations which do not proactively seek to identify and address inadequacies in their systems will likely find themselves redirecting resources toward activities which will do little to enhance their reputations or shareholder wealth.

The briefing paper considers in detail the key changes recommended in the Hayne Report and what these changes will mean for businesses and the Australian financial services landscape.

Renewed focus on compensation to address misconduct risk

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) released on 23 November 2018 its recommendations on the types of data regulators should be collecting from financial institutions (FIs) regarding compensation tools, as part of its workplan to address misconduct risk in FIs. This data is intended to help regulators monitor the effectiveness of FIs’ compensation structures in addressing misconduct risk and assessing whether additional measures are required.

To read our full briefing on the matter, please click here.

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HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS’ GUIDE TO CORPORATE INVESTIGATIONS IN CHINA

Kyle Wombolt, global head of corporate crime and investigations, and Anita Phillips, a professional support consultant, have published a guide to corporate investigations in China. This forms part of GIR’s acclaimed 2018 text, The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Investigations, available in print and online. Our chapter covers the legal and regulatory framework in China, running an internal investigation, dealing with cross-border investigations and responding and reporting to the Chinese authorities. Continue reading

JURY UNABLE TO REACH VERDICT IN BRIBERY TRIAL OF FORMER CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF HONG KONG

A jury has failed to reach a verdict in relation to a bribery charge against the former Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. On Friday 3 November, after 14 hours of deliberation, the jury advised the court that it was unable to reach a verdict and was dismissed. This is the second time a jury has been unable to reach a verdict on this charge. In February, Mr Tsang was convicted of misconduct in public office but the jury was hung on the concurrent bribery charge and a retrial was ordered. Yesterday, the prosecution indicated that the Department of Justice is not intending to seek a second retrial.

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Former Chief Secretary and property tycoon lose appeal in Hong Kong’s highest profile corruption case

The convictions of former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, Rafael Hui, former Sun Hung Kai chairman, Thomas Kwok, and two others have been upheld by Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal. The appellants have resumed serving their sentences for conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

In a case that has occupied the legal, political and business community, the judgment provides important clarification on the scope of the common law offence, in particular what is required for conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. The judgment confirms the well-established principle that benefits offered to develop or retain goodwill may fall foul of Hong Kong’s bribery laws.

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