BFCSA Blog

Led by award-winning consumer advocate Denise Brailey, BFCSA (Inc) are a group of people who are concerned about the appalling growth of Loan Fraud around the world. BFCSA (Inc) is a not for profit organisation in the spirit of global community concern and justice.

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Australian whistleblowers turn to US authorities to report misconduct Australian Financial Review Dec 2 2018 11:00 PM Elouise Fowler, Tom McIlroy   Forty-five Australian whistleblowers have tipped off a US corporate regulator about suspected misconduct and may be financially rewarded for their actions. The Australian whistleblowers were among 650 people outside of the US who complained to the US Securities and Exchange Commission Office of the Whistleblower. The SEC has a reward program for whistleblowers whose tip-offs lead to successful sanctions which attract penalties exceeding $US1 million ($1.37 million). A report by the US commission revealed Australia to be the third-largest source of international complaints behind Canada and Britain. It's likely these complaints are from employees working for US-listed firms or companies with headquarters in the US. A cross-party Australian parliamentary committee recommended a similar financial reward scheme for corporate sector whistleblowers but the government has so far ignored the advice...
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After the shake-up, the clean-up The Australian 11:00pm November 30, 2018 Ben Butler   Companies and a witness collapsed. Billions of dollars fled for-profit super funds for their rivals in the non-profit industry funds sector. An entire subsector of the finance industry, advice, has been all but killed off. Over 10 months and seven rounds of hearings, the financial services royal commission that the government originally pushed away by saying it wouldn’t accomplish anything has done plenty. Even before Commissioner Kenneth Hayne hands down his final report in February, he has effectively set banks, regulators and the parliament a mountain of homework that needs to be done if the finance sector is ever to regain the public trust it has frittered away through decades of greed, arrogance and incompetence. But the commission’s hectic pace — and Hayne’s decision not to ask for more time — means many issues have received the...
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Update on the Housing Bust in Sydney & Melbourne, Australia Wolf StreetDec 1, 2018 Wolf Richter   This is not exactly slow motion anymore. In Greater Sydney, Australia’s largest housing market, the housing bust, after a terrific housing bubble, is gaining momentum. In November, according to the CoreLogic Daily Home Value Index: Prices of single-family houses dropped 9.2% year-over-year. Prices of “units” (condos) fell 5.5%; Prices of all types of dwellings combined fell 8.1%; The overall index for Sydney, after dropping 1.4% from the end of October to the end of November, is now down 9.0% from its peak in September last year: Over the past four weeks, potential sellers – seeing the condition the market is in and hoping for better times – have slowed putting their properties on the market, and the number of new listings over the four-week period has dropped 9.3% from a year ago to just...
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Super loopholes ‘cost retirees billions’ The Australian 11:00pm December 2, 2018 Anthony Klan, Olivia Caisley   EXCLUSIVE  Retirement savers and taxpayers are losing billions of dollars a year because of inconsistencies and loopholes built into almost every superannuation law reform over three decades, a landmark study to be released this week reveals. The number of exemptions to super laws was “astonishing”, said study author and University of Technology Sydney professor Thomas Clarke, with lobbyists for financial organisations ­having been highly successful in pushing governments to go light on regulation over decades. The paper says “systemic” ­watering down of super laws will significantly contribute to workers and retirees losing $53 billion from nest eggs over the next decade, more than the $44bn the nat­ion spends a year on the age pension, citing research by independent actuary Rice Warner. Those losses are close to the $59bn Labor plans to raise from savers over...
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After the shake-up, the clean-up The Australian 11:00pm November 30, 2018 Ben Butler   Companies and a witness collapsed. Billions of dollars fled for-profit super funds for their rivals in the non-profit industry funds sector. An entire subsector of the finance industry, advice, has been all but killed off. Over 10 months and seven rounds of hearings, the financial services royal commission that the government originally pushed away by saying it wouldn’t accomplish anything has done plenty. Even before Commissioner Kenneth Hayne hands down his final report in February, he has effectively set banks, regulators and the parliament a mountain of homework that needs to be done if the finance sector is ever to regain the public trust it has frittered away through decades of greed, arrogance and incompetence. But the commission’s hectic pace — and Hayne’s decision not to ask for more time — means many issues have received the...
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Here’s hoping the Hayne royal commission’s final report will be an anticlimax The Australian 7:34 Am December 3, 2018 Alan Kohler   The banking royal commission has been such a valuably gruesome process that it is earnestly to be hoped that it isn’t messed up by a final report that overreaches. That’s especially so since the report will be released in the febrile lead up to a federal election, when both sides of politics are likely to fall over themselves to promise to implement every word of it, before reading it. It’s fair to say that much of what the final report can possibly contain is already being feverishly implemented by the banks and their regulators. Which is not to suggest that the report will be redundant, but simply that much of its impact has already happened. The recommendations about the banking system will be written by an eminent lawyer, assisted...
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Report calls for “Visibility” as bankers swarm around Aged Care michaelwest.com.auNov 29, 2018 Michael West   They get about in Ferraris and Lamborghinis though they cry for more government assistance to help the elderly. They rack up dazzling financial returns but say they can’t guarantee a nurse-to-patient ratio for their frail nursing home residents. Welcome to aged care, a government money trove which lures investment bankers like bees to a hive. Wherever there is corporate welfare to be had, taxpayers’ dollars up for grabs, there will be bankers and private equity types swarming. One, merchant bank Moelis Australia, is touting 20 per cent returns for investors in its Infinite Fund, 20 per cent over four years from nursing homes; that is a huge return. Another, private equity group Allity, with its dozens of corporate entities stretching to the Caribbean, gave its investors overseas a 15 per cent return on a loan....
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Fall in home values on track to be the worst since records began The Australian 11:00pm November 29, 2018 Turi Condon   Sydney has recorded its biggest monthly fall in housing prices in 14 years and is on track to post the sharpest and longest housing price slide since 1980, when research­er CoreLogic began collecti­ng housing figures. Sydney’s housing values have fallen 1.3 per cent so far this month and are down 9 per cent since the peak in July last year. The researcher now expects Sydney prices to drop a total of 15 per cent before the downturn is done. “If you look back, the biggest fall was 9.6 per cent in the last recessio­n, 1989-91,” CoreLogic’s head of research, Tim Lawless, told The Australian. “It looks like this downturn will be the largest and longest since our records started.’’ The four-year recession of the early 1990s came on the...
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Banking royal commission: ANZ staff morale crumbles amid cultural overhaul efforts The Australian 5:49pm November 29, 2018 Ben Butler, Joyce Moullakis   Staff morale has plummeted at ANZ with close to half of the bank’s staff thinking about getting a job somewhere else amid efforts by chief executive Shayne Elliott to overhaul the lender’s bonus-hungry culture. Results of the bank’s annual “My Voice” staff survey, shown to the financial services royal commission yesterday, were mostly down on previous years. And in ANZ’s finance division, another survey found almost three-quarters of employees in the division are afraid to share bad news with their boss “due to fear of repercussions”. Meanwhile, a survey of three non-executive directors conducted this year as part of a self-assessment for the prudential regulator revealed they felt Mr Elliott had a “different style” from previous boss Mike Smith, who “appeared to keep board at arm’s length”, creating a...
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Westpac faces investor ire over exec pay The Australian 11:00pm November 29, 2018 Joyce Moullakis, Andrew White   Westpac is set to face investor fury, and potentially a first strike, after three proxy advisory firms told investors to vote against its remuneration report. Westpac will test the waters at its annual general meeting on December 12, ahead of its rivals ANZ and National Australia Bank who will also face pressure at their respective meetings the following week. Commonwealth Bank has a June 30 year end. The Australian understands advisory firm Ownership Matters is telling institutional investors to vote against Westpac’s pay report and also recommend against the re-election of non-executive director and former AMP chief Craig Dunn. “The performance over the past decade, and the royal commission process, have highlighted the poor outcomes the company has delivered to shareholders and many customers, including poor shareholder returns during Dunn’s tenure as CEO,”...
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Banks ‘aren’t safe enough yet’, says Professor John Vickers The Australian 11:00pm November 29, 2018 Adam Creighton   A key architect of Britain’s post-crisis banking reforms, Professor John Vickers, has blasted regulators’ approach to minimum bank capital levels as “simply wrong”, suggesting so-called “bail-inable” debt is untested and shareholders’ equity should be about three times higher than it is. Prof Vickers, a former chief economist at the Bank of England, said banking regulators around the world had made assumptions that were “wrong by a wide margin”, such as setting minimum equity levels based on normal economic conditions. “Capital safeguards are for abnormal conditions, just as flood defences are built for abnormal weather conditions,” he said. New banking rules agreed in the wake of the crisis, known as “Basel III”, mandate that banks’ assets be backed by at least 3 per cent equity. Prof Vickers chaired the British government’s 2011 independent Commission...
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Banking royal commission: APRA unsure what good bank pay looks like Australian Financial Review Nov 29 2018 6:55 PM Chanticleer   The mandate of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority is pretty clear when it comes to bank pay: "Supervisory review of compensation practices must be rigorous and sustained and deficiencies must be addressed promptly with supervisory action." The rules for remuneration are set out in prudential standard CPS 510, which covers a number of bank governance issues. So when a team from the regulator, led in this case by APRA chairman Wayne Byres himself, met with the board of the Commonwealth Bank in late 2016, you'd think it would have been an uncomfortable discussion. After all, APRA knew the bank's risk controls were inadequate and it was facing an avalanche of conduct issues. The fact these risk issues weren't reflected in CBA's pay outcomes would surely have been a serious concern....
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How Nicholas Moore built Macquarie Bank into a $2.6-billion-profit powerhouse Australian Financial ReviewNov 30 2018 12:15 AM Tony Boyd   EXCLUSIVE  David Gonski thinks Nicholas Moore is a frustrated architect. That was the impression Gonski gained after Moore led him on a private tour in 2015 of Macquarie’s new headquarters inside the historic Commonwealth Bank building in Sydney’s Martin Place. Moore had taken a leading role in the building’s design and whereas most chief executives would have placed their office on a corner, facing outwards across bustling Martin Place, Moore wanted to look inwards, across the central atrium, at the Macquarie worker bees above and below. With the press of a button he can frost his glass walls whenever privacy is needed. That Moore’s office looks inwards is no mere architectural obsession. His penchant for keeping an eye over every part of Macquarie’s sprawling global business, and his never-ending fascination with...
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NAB tells its mortgage brokers to ‘crank it up’ for Christmas The Australian 11:00pm November 28, 2018 Michael Roddan   EXCLUSIVE  National Australia Bank ­became embroiled in a new pressure-­selling scandal yesterday after it was caught using its “values” ­reward scheme to force its staff to “fill” its “funnel” with new loans before the Christmas break. The revelations of senior managers coercing frontline staff to sell more mortgages with the promise of internal reward points that can be redeemed for prizes came after NAB chairman Ken Henry and chief executive ­Andrew Thorburn received a drubbing at the banking royal commission over their failure to punish executives for bungling the bank’s relationship with regulators and dragging their heels over refunding customers’ fees where no service was provided. In an email sent just this week by a regional customer executive for large swathes of eastern NSW and the ACT, staff members were told...
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Industry funds lead revolt against bank bonuses Australian Financial Review Nov 28 2018 11:00 PM Angus Grigg   Industry super funds are leading a revolt against the hefty bonuses paid to senior banking executives over the last year, with momentum building for the remuneration reports of Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking Group to be voted down at their upcoming annual meetings. As new evidence of misconduct emerges daily from the royal commission and shareholder returns decline, the funds are arguing no bonuses should have been paid given the litany of missteps and destruction of customer trust. Australian Super, which has $8 billion invested in the big four banks and Macquarie, is likely to vote against the remuneration reports of Westpac, NAB and ANZ, but is yet to make a final decision. Other big industry funds, including UniSuper, Cbus and Hostplus, are also understood to be unhappy, believing the Commonwealth...
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Banking royal commission: ANZ launches fightback over banker pay Australian Financial Review Nov 28 2018 7:02 PM James Frost   ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott has rejected a push for more transparency around banker pay arguing that publishing more details about bonuses would amount to little more than "ritualistic shaming" and he did not want to instil a "culture of fear" at the bank. Appearing at the Hayne royal commission, Mr Elliott warned of unintended consequences flowing from moves to provide more information about executive salaries saying it had already pushed banker pay higher in Australia. Mr Elliott said in his view the enhanced reporting of senior executive pay had "actually led to inflation in executive compensation". "Well, there's an inevitable arm's race aspect to it," Commissioner Hayne observed to which Mr Elliott agreed. Mr Elliott was discussing the bank's decision to partially dock the bonuses of some members of the...
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Rental affordability worse for low-paid workers and negative gearing is to blame Australian Financial Review Nov 29 2018 12:00 AM Michael Bleby   Single mothers working part-time and single males on benefits are paying up to 70 per cent of their income on rent in Sydney and are the biggest casualties of the negative gearing and capital gains tax breaks that favour private investors and force more tenants to compete for properties, an author of the latest Rental Affordability Index argues. While Sydney is the country's toughest housing market, the same groups also face severely unaffordable rental housing in other cities, with single part-time worker parent households paying 56 per cent of their income on rent in Melbourne, 58 per cent in Canberra, 52 per cent in Brisbane, 46 per cent in Perth, 42 per cent in Hobart and 40 per cent in Adelaide, according to the latest biannual index by...
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RBNZ eases macroprudential restrictions Australian Financial Review Nov 28 2018 6:13 PM Vesna Poljak   The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has joined Australian policymakers in winding back macroprudential regulation, allowing banks to lend to a greater number of low-deposit residential property borrowers if the demand is there. But the RBNZ's revised approach indicates that macroprudential restrictions of some degree will be a permanent part of the NZ financial system, even after the central bank succeeded in cooling the residential housing market. From January 1, up to 20 per cent, from the previous 15 per cent, of new mortgage loans to NZ owner-occupiers can have deposits of less than 20 per cent. And up to 5 per cent of new mortgage loans to property investors can have deposits of less than 30 per cent, from the previous level of 35 per cent. In July, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority agreed to...
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Reserve Bank admits oversight errors The Australian 11:00pm November 28, 2018 Michael Roddan   The full scale of a bribery scandal linked to the Reserve Bank of Australia has been revealed after the lifting of suppression orders on a string of legal trials connected to the Securency and Note Printing Australia debacle. The lifting of the suppression orders covering the guilty pleas made in 2011 by the RBA-owned companies showed NPA and ­Securency paid more than $20 million in fines for bribing foreign officials over banknote contracts. Securency and NPA, which were note-­printing companies previously half-owned and fully owned by the Reserve Bank, committed the offences over a period stretching between late 1999 and late 2004. Four former NPA employees pleaded guilty to charges of ­conspiracy to bribe and/or false accounting. Four other trials did not proceed because pursuing them would “bring the administration of justice into disrepute” because of procedural...
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ASIC: ‘low-doc’ lenders risk prosecution The Australian 11:00pm November 27, 2018 Andrew White   Lenders pushing “low-doc” loans face increased risk of prosecution as well as higher credit risk, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission warned yesterday, as it vowed to use its new powers to enforce standards in the $1.8 trillion residential mortgage market Deputy commissioner Cathie Armour warned investors to be wary of “low doc” or nonconforming loans, saying it was “fundamentally incompatible” with responsible lending laws to provide loans without taking reasonable steps to verify a borrowers financial situation. Ms Armour said any consumer capable of repaying a loan should be able to take one out.  “But insofar as the phrase ‘nonconforming loans’ could be used as a euphemism for a low-doc or risky consumer loan, our warning remains: lenders and investors face not only higher credit risks, but also the risk of a regulatory response in these...
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