Smartline will be the first broking group to appear at the first round of public hearings for the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
Commissioner Hon. Kenneth Hayne has formally granted the broking group, which is now majority-owned by REA Group, leave to appear at the first round of public hearings in Melbourne on Tuesday, 13 March.
Smartline will join the big four banks, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), ING Bank, Citigroup, the Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales and the Finance Sector Union of Australia at the Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts Building in Melbourne for the hearings running until 23 March.
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia is reportedly appearing “on its behalf and on behalf of its associated entities” and will therefore most likely be representing Aussie Home Loans, too.
The applicants have been granted leave to not only appear at the hearings but also to:
- examine any witness that the applicant has nominated to give evidence during the hearings.
- cross-examine any other witness to the extent that the witness has given evidence during the hearings about the conduct of the applicant.
- make written submissions at the conclusion of the hearings: (i) about what findings of fact, if any, may be made about the conduct of the applicant examined in the course of the hearings; and (ii) about an issue which the applicant can demonstrate to be an issue in which the applicant has a direct or substantial interest.
First public hearings to look at brokers and mortgages
As announced last month, the first public hearings for the royal commission 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.
Specifically, for mortgages, the hearings 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.
According to the commission, it intends to deal with consumer lending for the purposes of the public hearings through a range of case studies, and a number of consumers will also give evidence of their particular experiences during the hearings.
Other topics for discussion at the first hearings 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 royal commission will be accepting public submissions online over the coming months. It has not yet announced a deadline for submission.
To date, the commission has received 1,611 submissions, with banking being the main industry concerned (64 per cent). This is followed by superannuation (12 per cent) and life insurance and general insurance (6 per cent).
The main nature of the dealings involved in the public submissions are personal finance, superannuation and small business finance.
An interim report is expected to be submitted no later than 30 September 2018, and the royal commission will provide the government with a final report by 1 February 2019.