A former regulator has slammed the practice of the country’s watchdogs for allowing staff to accept gifts from the industries they are supposed to be policing.

Former ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel says watchdogs should not be socialising with the businesses they are supposed to regulate.

‘Gifts and hospitality are not given for reasons of altruism,’ Mr Samuel told The Sydney Morning Herald, adding they were for ‘ingratiation’.

‘It’s about creating that sense of obligation or a relationship so that officials start to think ‘maybe I shouldn’t be as tough on this lot’.’

Watchdogs such as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, which regulate companies and banks, keep a register of gifts and hospitality but do not make them public.

Gifts include champagne and vintage wines, expensive dinners, concert tickets and airline upgrades..