Australian securities regulators are finding an upsurge in insider trading cases following the rise in takeovers and the booming stock market, according to reports.

The rise in takeovers and the booming stock market has led to a big increase in the number of potential insider trading cases spotted by the Australian Securities Exchange, according to supervision head Eric Mayne.

Mr Mayne said the ASX had referred 18 potential insider trading cases to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in the nine months to the end of March this year.

This compares with a total of 13 referrals from the ASX to ASIC over the whole of the financial year to June 30, 2006.

The increased activity comes as the guard changes today at ASIC, the corporate regulator.

Former ASX boss Tony D’Aloisio assumes the chairmanship of the agency, and will face a tough task in resurrecting its public profile.

The ASIC role of monitoring the ASX could be seen as ironic, given Mr D’Aloisio was dumped as the exchange’s chief executive after its merger with the Sydney Futures Exchange last year.

His assuming the number one job signals the return of a lawyer to head ASIC. His predecessor Jeff Lucy was previously an accountant.

ASIC has been the target of persistent criticism for acting too lightly and avoiding the prosecution of more serious corporate crime.

Industry observers said one could not rule out ASIC expanding its review of the ASX, from the currently required one per year.

Mr Mayne, who heads the unit, was appointed to the ASX during Mr D’Aloisio’s reign.

The regulatory body will be grilled in Canberra shortly over its handling of the Fincorp collapse, when its executives face a round of Senate estimates.

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