ASIC has warned businesses it will be targeting greenwashing, predatory lending, and misleading insurance pricing promises this year as part of a continuing focus on protecting consumers from financial harm.

In a media release on Wednesday, the regulator said it will have a strong focus on enforcement activity targeting sustainable finance practices and disclosure of climate risks, financial scams, cyber and operational resilience, and investor harms involving crypto-assets. 

The warning coincides with its latest enforcement and regulatory report, highlighting actions taken during the last three months of 2022. 

Between July and December 2022, 173 criminal charges were laid, $76.3 million in civil penalties were imposed by the courts, and 62 investigations were commenced, with another 103 ongoing. This brings the total for 2022 (calendar year) to 312 criminal charges being laid and $222.1 million in civil penalties imposed by the courts. 

ASIC took action against former directors of Star Entertainment Group for alleged breaches of their director and officer duties involving money laundering risks. The regulator took its first action for greenwashing in October 2022 and issued infringement notices to three entities in the reporting period for misleading sustainability-related statements.  

It also issued 22 design and distribution obligations (DDO) stop orders to prevent consumers and investors from being targeted by products inappropriate to their objectives, financial situation, and needs.