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Australia

Fraud committed against Chinese in Australia has been a problem for a while as criminals use a variety of tactics. It is known, for example, that young foreign Mandarin speakers are recruited abroad to visit Australia for short periods, affecting tourism status, where they follow a script to commit fraud or extortion in a way similar to the boiler-room scams often run by Europeans in South East Asia. This year is is already far worse than the whole of last year.

FCRO Subsection: 

There are three things that provide clear links between Italy and Australia. There are the coffee shops: across much of Australia, the spread of American coffee chains has been stopped in its tracks by the loyalty customers show to to the generations of Italians who have made, for some, Australia the coffee capital of the world.

Australia is big. Seriously big. It is also empty. Seriously empty. With an estimated 90% of its population clustered into a handful of coastal cities (and some of those being small compared to Sydney and Melbourne), the cost of doing business can be disproportionately high in provincial and rural areas. One might think that would favour the internet and, for non-perishable, non-urgent things that's probably true although, as in many countries, the cost of delivery dramatically ramps up the cost of products in sparsely populated areas. What happens when towns become too small to support reasonable returns for businesses? Logic says "close up or combine." Australian regulators question that policy.

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has issued a notice opposing a "merger" proposal involving TPG Telecom Limited (TPG) and Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd (Vodafone). The reasons include that TPG has been "disruptive" in a complacent market and is "the best prospect Australia has for a new mobile network operator to enter the market." But it's a far more complex picture than that.

CoNet Section: 

Australian financial services giant AMP and its solicitors Clayton Utz have "surrendered" in their objections to producing notes of meetings which they claimed were subject to legal professional privilege. ASIC's position is simple: it has wide ranging powers to compel the release of documents and it will accept only a narrow and strict definition of legal professional privilege.

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Part 2 of the review of Australia'sTreasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) ACt 2019

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The Australian Federal Government last night passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019. It applies to those making authorised disclosures in a "regulated entity" and a far wider range of releasing information than is common This is part one of a series.

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Australia has long been in conflict with foreign discounters marketing, amongst other things, by internet. It all started with a fight over the price of books.

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Starting point: banks in Australia have behaved appallingly. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission, ACCC, has been shown up as .. pick a negative adjective and it's probably been used. The ACCC, along with other regulators who have been shown up as wanting are now doing their best to prove they are "across it," as Australians say. Today, they say that they have produced a "final report" from their residential mortgage price inquiry. But.. has the ACCC now moved from ensuring good behaviour to managing how banks do business? It raises risk management questions, liquidity issues and even the stability of the housing market which has been in an accelerating downturn for a while and is showing all the signs of turning into a bit of a crisis.

BIScom Subsection: 

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission has been looking at how prices at petrol pumps move, with changes taking place in what, on the face of it, seems in concert. But, the ACCC says, there is in fact no evidence of collusion: it's simply price-watching and price-matching between operators. And if consumers take advantage of hints, there could be an enormous injection of discretionary spending from disposable income or a reduction in credit card debt across the country.

The news, then, is that what might have been suspected as a crime is not a crime at all.

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If enough people get to see it, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's press conference in Bourke Street, Melbourne this morning will go down as one of those jaw-dropping moments in politics. It was a no-holds barred, balls-out, unequivocal challenge to "communities" in Melbourne to identify and report indicators of extremism for the sake of Australia and, importantly, for their own sake. A straight-talking poli? Strewth.

CoNet Section: 

Last year it was FinTech. 2018 was scheduled to be the year of RegTech but the crazy inflation in the value of crypto-currencies at the end of 2017 hijacked that and this year became the year where no sentence was complete without the word "blockchain" somewhere in it, or so it seemed. But the love affair is already turning sour as reality sets in and the buzzword junkies are at last being shown for what they are: opportunists who will be onto the next big thing as soon as someone tells them what it is.

CoNet Section: 

The iconic fashion boots UGG are famously Australian.

Or so consumers were falsely told by Ozwear Connection, a wholesaler of footwear and accessories in Australia.

And then there's the question of exactly what is an "ugg" boot.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that in an agreed settlement before the Federal Court, Australian financial services group Westpac will pay a civil penalty of AUD35 million after admitting breaches of Australia's responsible lending rules. The door-of-the-court settlement avoids a lengthy trial that should have started yesterday.

*** Update: see Westpac's new best friend? Australian Federal Court rejects settlement with regulator ***

BIScom Subsection: 

Australia's ASIC has undertaken an extensive review of so-called "reverse mortgages" which are actual mortgages with potentially catastrophic long-tail results, which may be one of the things that borrowers did not understand. The findings of the review are startling.

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