An experienced corporate lawyer writes:

In The AFR of Thursday 7 July, ASIC Chairman Jeff Lucy is quoted as saying in
relation to the Vizard matter that ASIC could have pursued civil legal
proceedings for insider trading against Vizard but ASIC chose not
to. In fact, the law was changed in 2001 to allow ASIC to bring civil
proceedings for insider trading. Before then, the law allowed ASIC to
only bring criminal proceedings for insider trading.

Vizard’s share trading was in 2000 – before the law was
changed.

On Inside Business on 10 July, former ASIC Chairman Alan Cameron
states that the legal principle is that Vizard has legal action taken
against him based on the law that existed at the time he traded – ie
changes to the law aren’t retrospective.

So who is right? The current chairman of ASIC or the former chairman of
ASIC? The question is important because, among other things, the standard
of proof is lower for civil proceedings than for criminal proceedings and
therefore ASIC’s prospects of success can be expected to be higher in
civil proceedings, other things being equal.

Peter Fray

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