Reports say ASIC failed to investigate illegal trade claims

AUSTRALIA'S investment regulator has defended itself against claims it failed to investigate allegations a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank sought an illegal trade deal with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission released a YouTube video featuring Commissioner Greg Tanzer defending the regulator's reputation on Monday afternoon.

It comes amid allegations published in Fairfax Media on Monday that officials with RBA subsidiary Note Printing Australia sought a deal to sell plastic banknotes to Hussein's regime during United Nations sanctions on the regime.

The reports, due to be aired on ABC's Four Corners on Monday night, detailed confidential documents showing how NPA officials sought out the deal, but ASIC failed to properly investigate the whistleblower's claims.

But the deal reportedly never went ahead, after diplomats got wind of the plans and alerted the Australian Federal Police.

Mr Tanzer has vigorously defended the commission's role in the investigation, saying the ASIC did investigate claims by reviewing more than 10,000 pages of documents related to the allegations.

He said it was important to note the AFP had already charged people in relation to the allegations, and several mattes were already before the court.

"Let me be absolutely crystal clear; ASIC looked at this matter very closely, but based on the facts and the evidence available, decided not to take the matter further," Mr Tanzer said.

"As there are related prosecutions before the court, we are not in a position to detail publicly all of the reasons for our decision."

The details of the allegations and the action taken by Commonwealth authorities, was expected to be detailed during the ABC program on Monday night.

Topics:  asic rba reserve bank youtube

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