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BFCSA: Big banks rapped for missing dirty laundry list deadline!

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Big banks rapped for missing dirty laundry list 


Sarah Danckert   SMH

Major financial institutions have been admonished by the banking royal commissioner, Kenneth Hayne, after it emerged some had been unable to properly complete a list of their misconduct within the requested timeframe.

The big four banks are understood to have rankled Commissioner Hayne by submitting incomplete 'rap sheets' despite being asked to detail all circumstances of poor banking behaviour.

The criticism came on the first day of the royal commission into misconduct in the banking superannuation and financial services industry, which will first review consumer credit products including home loans, credit cards and other loans like car loans.

In an opening statement in Melbourne on Monday, Commissioner Hayne revealed that some large financial institutions had indicated they would not be able to meet the royal commission’s deadline to complete their full list of dirty laundry by Tuesday.

Major financial institutions, including the big four banks, Macquarie and AMP were asked to provide the royal commission with a 50-page submission detailing cases of misconduct since 2008. Those submissions were expected to include instances where the banks’ conduct fell below community standards.

Commissioner Hayne on Monday said some unnamed institutions had not responded in a satisfactory way.

“In important respects, some large industry participants had sought to respond by giving examples of misconduct, rather than by specifically detailing the nature of the misconduct they have identified,” Commissioner Hayne said.

“I then wrote to some of the large respondents asking each to give more information about misconduct within that entity over the past five years."

The retired High Court judge said the commission asked the institutions in question to "amplify" their responses by 4pm on February 13.

“Some, but not all, and none of them a small entity, have said they cannot respond within the time fixed ... The deadline cannot be met due to the amount of material that needs to be reviewed and assembled,” Commissioner Hayne said.

“It is a matter itself that will require further attention,” Commissioner Hayne said.

Commissioner Hayne also encouraged members of the public to make public submissions after it emerged only a few hundred submissions had been received.

Last week, the royal commission said in a statement to Fairfax Media that it would not waive gag orders put on victims by banks.

“In relation to the issue of non-disclosure provisions in settlements ... at this stage of the inquiry, we would not want individuals to provide information that may be in breach of legal obligations by voluntarily providing such information,” a royal commission spokesman said last week in response to Fairfax Media’s questions about non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements.

Following the revelations by Fairfax Media, all big four banks waived the confidentiality agreements with people subject to settlement agreements.

Commissioner Hayne did not explicitly waive the confidentiality requirements on consumers but said legal action by a financial institution against someone called as a witness who had a settlement agreement would be in breach of the law.

Nationals senators remain unconvinced the warning from Commissioner Hayne will provide enough protection to witnesses.

It is understood Attorney-General Christian Porter is considering a proposal from NSW Senator John Williams that would see a seperate Parliamentary inquiry obtain information for the royal commission and provide protections for witnesses under Parliamentary privilege. 

"I'm not going to sit back and have this classified as a grey area with people in fear of being sued for giving the commission important information," said Senator Williams. 

The Financial Services Royal Commission was set up on November 30 by the Turnbull government after the big four banks gave their support to the inquiry.

The banks and the government had originally resisted the royal commission despite support for such an inquiry from members of the government, the ALP and the Greens.

Commissioner Hayne is to deliver an interim report on September 30 and a final report on February 1.






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