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ASIC has released its Corporate Plan for 2019-2023 and small business remains a large and important stakeholder for ASIC, reflected in the plan’s action items for this financial year.

ASIC Commissioner John Price said, ‘With small businesses comprising 96% of all companies registered with ASIC, their success is critically important to the Australian economy. As Australia’s regulator for companies, financial markets and providers of financial services and consumer credit, ASIC works to help small business succeed and to ensure a level playing field for honest small business owners.’

In the financial year ahead, ASIC will continue to review lenders’ compliance with small business protections in light of the changes to unfair contract terms legislation as well as maintain engagement with important external stakeholders that have a key role to play in small business.

ASIC will also focus on assisting small business owners in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities to increase their awareness of ASIC’s role in assisting, engaging with and helping to protect small business, while also helping them access the information they need to improve their financial acumen.

Last financial year, ASIC prosecuted 382 individuals for 827 offences for failure to keep books and records which is often a classic indicator of phoenix activity. ASIC will continue conducting surveillance of potential illegal phoenix activity, which is estimated to cost businesses between $1.1 and $3.1 billion each year out of an overall cost to the economy of between $2.8 and $5.1 billion each year.

ASIC supports Government initiatives to combat illegal phoenix activity such as the Phoenix Taskforce and Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, as well as supporting the proposed phoenix activity reforms contained in the Treasury Laws Amendment (Combatting Illegal Phoenixing) Bill 2019.

Through ASIC’s Small Business Strategy 2017-2020 ASIC remains committed to assisting, engaging and helping to protect small businesses. Key highlights for 2018-19 include:

• More than 375,000 new business names and 220,000 new companies were registered, and over 142 million searches of ASIC’s registers were conducted

• ASIC responded to over 670,000 enquiries through its various communications channels, and the small business page on ASIC’s website was viewed over 54,000 times.

• Over 14,500 downloads of the FirstBusiness App

• Refreshing our small business online resources to make them easier to navigate