Six months of inactivity for your AFSL or ACL? ASIC now has the power to immediately cancel it

ASIC has been granted new powers to cancel both Australian Financial Services Licences (“AFSL”) and Australian Credit Licences (“ACL”) if the licensee fails to commence its business within six (6) months of the licence being granted by ASIC.  This also applies to existing AFSL and ACL holders who do not carry on business within 6 months of 18 February 2020.

Important Points

ASIC has the ability to immediately cancel an AFSL or ACL where the licensee:

  • has not commenced its business within six (6) months of:
    • being granted an AFSL or ACL;
    • 18 February 2020 (for existing AFSL or ACL holders); or
  • has ceased to operate a financial services or credit business.

What are licensees required to do?

If you are a body corporate, ASIC may cancel your AFSL or ACL by giving written notice if you have not provided financial or credit services as authorised under the licence within six (6) months of it being granted. As a licensee, you must lodge a notification with ASIC before the end of fifteen (15) business days at the conclusion of the six (6) month period if you have not provided the services authorised by your AFSL or ACL.

This new power also applies to the following:

  • Individuals – Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) s915B(1)
  • Partnerships – Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) s915B(2A)
  • Trustee of a trust – Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) s915B(4A)

Licence holders will be able to seek an extension of time from ASIC if they are unable to commence their financial or credit business during the six (6) month period after being granted their AFSL or ACL. This extension should be sought before the expiry of the initial six (6) month timeframe. It is at ASIC’s discretion to cancel a licence and ASIC may work with licensees if there are genuine reasons for not commencing business six (6) months after being granted a licence.

Background information

This new power came into effect in February 2020 after public comment made in response to the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce Report (“Taskforce Report”) in 2017.

Previously, ASIC’s powers in the AFSL and ACL regime only allowed ASIC to suspend or cancel licences if the licensee ceased to commence a financial service business. These powers did not include the ability to suspend or cancel licences in the event that licensees were not providing financial services as authorised after the granting of a licence. The recommendations by the Taskforce Report were made in response to uncertainty as to when a business should commence operation after obtaining a licence. The need to strengthen these powers was also imperative as licensees were capitalising on licenses and selling them to persons who may not have met the requirements to hold an AFSL or ACL.

Further Reading

Contact Information

If you would like to speak to us about how this amendment could affect your licence, please contact us.

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