Gina Rinehart
Australian mining heiress and Chairman of Hancock Prospecting group Gina Rinehart awards medals to competitors at the Australian Synchronised Swimming Championships in Sydney, Australia, April 25, 2015. Rinehart's company is a major sponsor of the event. Reuters/Jason Reed

For not registering financial accounts on time, Hancock Prospecting and two of its other subsidiaries have been convicted and fined in April following an Australian Securities and Investments Commission investigation.

Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd, Hancock Minerals Pty Ltd and Hope Downs Iron Pty Ltd have pleaded guilty to charges of submitting financial records untimely between 2008 and 2012 at the Perth Magistrates Court. According to ASIC rules, a company should lodge their financial reports within four months of their balance date.

Magistrate Huston of the Perth Magistrates Court declared that the company has been charged on total 13 counts for breaching section 319 of the Corporations Act 2001 and collectively fined AU$130,000 for the delay.

ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said the details of the financial accounts of a company help shareholders, creditors, investors and the general public to make “informed decisions.” He suggested that as long as companies fail to submit their financial reports on time, they will continue to take strong enforcement against them. It also ensures transparency.

According to ASIC report, 17 public companies have been convicted due to failure of lodging their accounts within the mentioned time period during 2014-15 financial year. As a result, ASIC launched successful criminal prosecutions against all of them and has been able to obtain fines of between AU$1,000 and AU$27,000 from them.

The matter has been prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the maximum penalty for each offence relating to failing to lodge financial reports is AU$13,750.

However, Gina Rinehart, owner of the Hancock Prospecting and whose wealth of AU$20 billion makes her Australia’s richest person , has vehemently criticised regulators for unnecessarily convicting and putting a fine on the company.

One of the spokespersons for the company issued a statement saying that the criminal prosecution charges were “not necessary” because Hancock Prospecting always pay their taxes within the required time period. Although the spokesman agreed that the company was late in submitting the financial reports, yet he assured that it was filed before the charges could be laid.

Tanzer, on the other hand defended the decision of prosecution charges.

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