Corporate lawyer Joe Longo to replace James Shipton as ASIC chair

Corporate lawyer Joe Longo to replace James Shipton as ASIC chair

New ASIC appointments Sarah Court (left) and Joe Longo (right) with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Lawyer Joe Longo has been selected to become chairperson of Australia's corporate watchdog from 1 June, replacing James Shipton who is leaving the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) after three years in the role.

Shipton's pending exit was announced ahead of his return to work in February, following an unpaid leave of absence since October while an investigation was underway into expenditures relating to his relocation to Australia for the job in 2018, including $118,537 paid by ASIC for his tax advice.

That money was repaid by Shipton and the investigation found no wrongdoing from him or former deputy chairman Daniel Crennan, QC, who brought forward his planned resignation from the regulator in October.

Nonetheless, the investigation led to recommendations for significant improvements to the watchdog's internal practices, systems and processes.

"In the light of the outcomes of the review, Mr Shipton will return to his role, but Mr Shipton and I have agreed that it is in the best interests of ASIC that he will step down as chairperson of ASIC in the coming months," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on 29 January.

"I thank Mr Shipton for his three years of service and dedication during his time as Chairperson of ASIC."

After a period of limbo ASIC will now have a clearer picture of its leadership with Longo stepping into the position, where he will be joined by another new recruit at the organisation with Sarah Court as deputy chair, moving across from her current job as commissioner at Australia's competition regulator.

Longo has had a long career in corporate law, financial services, governance and regulation, most recently as a senior advisor at law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), and before that a career built as general counsel for Deutsche Bank in London and Hong Kong for 17 years, as well as a stint as ASIC's national director of enforcement.

Outgoing chair James Shipton has welcomed the new appointments

"On behalf of the ASIC Commission and team I'd like to congratulate Joe Longo on his appointment as the next ASIC chair and Sarah Court as an additional deputy chair.

"Joe is known to many at the agency from his time as National Director of Enforcement from 1996-2000 and subsequent interactions as a lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills.

"His wealth of domestic and international experience will serve ASIC well in the vital work it does in supporting the financial system and economy, especially as Australia recovers from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Shipton's sentiments were echoed by Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

"I congratulate Mr Longo and Ms Court on their appointments," he said.

"They are both highly qualified and experienced individuals with a deep understanding of both the private and public sectors. ASIC will benefit from their understanding of regulatory settings, insight into business and their strong leadership.

"Mr Shipton has shown great commitment and dedication to ASIC during his three years as chair and I thank him for his service. I look forward to his continued assistance during the transition and wish him all the best in his future endeavours."

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims congratulated Court on her upcoming move to ASIC.

"This is a well-deserved reflection of the experience, expertise, and wisdom Sarah brings to the table," Sims said.

"ASIC's gain is very much our loss. Sarah was first appointed as an ACCC Commissioner in May 2008 and reappointed for an impressive third term in 2018. In her 13 years at the ACCC, Sarah has made an incredibly significant contribution to the agency and its work."

"We pass on our congratulations to Sarah in her new role."

Court has had a very wide involvement in the ACCC's work and currently chairs the ACCC's enforcement, compliance, consumer data right and legal committees and is a member of the merger review and competition exemptions committees.

"I will miss the ACCC, but I am very much looking forward to engaging with the opportunities at ASIC," Court said.

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