Small businesses in ASIC's crosswire

MORE than 160 small business directors were among those rapped over the knuckles by Australia's companies' regulator in the first six months of this year.

The latest enforcement report from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission showed more than 250 "enforcement outcomes" were completed during the period.

It showed ASIC took "action" against 168 small business directors, the biggest share of the regulator's enforcement activities between January and June this year.

But it also showed stronger action, including criminal charges against four people for insider trading and one for market manipulation.

The report said the two key focus areas for the regulator were action against credit providers for misleading consumers and loan fraud, both domestic and international.

It also put markets on notice that it was now looking at the treatment of confidential information by listed companies and manipulation of financial benchmarks.