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Royal commission hearing to look at fraud and accreditations

by Reporter6 minute read
Royal commission hearing to look at fraud and accreditations

The first public hearings for the royal commission will focus on NAB’s introducer program and fraudulent loan applications, Aussie Home Loans’ “fraudulent brokers and broker arrangements”, and CBA accreditation and broker arrangements.

The first round of public hearings for the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry will be held in Melbourne at the Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts Building from Tuesday, 13 March, to Friday, 23 March.

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According to the commission, the first round of public hearings will consider aspects of the treatment of consumers by banking and financial services providers in connection with a number of credit products, including residential mortgages, car finance and credit cards. 

It will also consider the arrangements and practices of banking and financial services providers and their intermediaries.

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According to an update from the commission, it intends to deal with consumer lending for the purposes of the public hearings through a range of case studies, including — for residential mortgages — “NAB’s introducer program and fraudulent loan applications, Aussie Home Loans’ fraudulent brokers and broker arrangements, and CBA accreditation of brokers and broker arrangements”. 

While details of these case studies have not yet been revealed, the commission has said that a number of consumers will give evidence of their particular experiences during the hearings.

The entities that are the subject of consumer evidence will be informed by the commission and a representative of a consumer advocacy group will also give evidence.

The commission has said that further topics may be included before the hearings commence.

Other topics for discussion at the first hearing include:

  • Car Finance – Westpac/St George car finance practices; ANZ/Esanda car finance practices
  • Credit Cards – Westpac’s “unsuitable credit card limit increases; Citi’s imposition of “international transaction fees”
  • Add-On Insurance Products – CBA credit insurance in connection with home loans, personal loans and credit cards
  • Credit Offers – ANZ’s “unsuitable pre-approved overdraft offers”
  • Account Administration – ANZ’s account administration errors; CBA’s “unsuitable overdraft facilities and failure of automated systems”

The initial hearing of the royal commission earlier this month revealed that the first public hearing would focus on lending.

The senior counsel assisting, Ms Rowena Orr QC, told the commissioner of the inquiry, Justice Kenneth Hayne: “Commissioner, you have referred to the preamble to the terms of reference which refers to the right of all Australians to be treated honestly and fairly in their dealings with banking and financial services providers. The first round of hearings will consider whether consumers are enjoying this right when it comes to lending. 

“As I indicated earlier, one of the themes that has emerged from the public submissions through the commission website is inappropriate or unsuitable lending. The focus for the first round of hearings will be on consumer lending and practices. It is likely that this topic will be examined in the context of a number of credit products, such as home loans, car loans and credit cards.” 

Ms Orr continued: “The commission will hear evidence of events involving certain financial services entities in the context of home lending that suggest that consumers have not always enjoyed the right to be treated honestly and fairly when it comes to home loans. 

“Some of these events may have involved breaches of the law, while others may have involved departures from community standards and expectations.”

The lawyer continued: “Each of these events gives rise to important questions for consideration by the commission, not least of which are: how and why were such events permitted to occur and what steps, if any, were taken at the time or have since been taken in response to those events, including steps to ensure that they do not occur again.”

Ms Orr concluded: “Of course, not every issue that arises in consumer lending, and upon which the commission will ultimately report, can be the subject of hearings and witness testimony... a great deal of the commission’s work will be conducted through the painstaking task of extracting and reviewing documents and through regular consultation with stakeholders, whether they be members of the public, the regulators or the instructions themselves.”

[Related: Banks to waive NDAs in royal commission]

Royal commission hearing to look at fraud and accreditations
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