Aus­tralia bows to pres­sure with in­quiry into bank mis­con­duct

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World -

THE Aus­tralian govern­ment bowed to grow­ing pres­sure by an­nounc­ing Thurs­day a high-level in­quiry into mis­be­hav­ior in Aus­tralia’s fi­nan­cial sec­tor.

A royal com­mis­sion — the high­est form of in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Aus­tralia — will re­view the bank­ing, pen­sion and fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­tries, Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull an­nounced.

The de­ci­sion fol­lows a series of scan­dals over money laun­der­ing and other abuses.

Turn­bull’s con­ser­va­tive coali­tion has been re­sist­ing calls from the cen­ter-left op­po­si­tion La­bor Party for such an in­quiry for al­most two years. His stance changed af­ter the chief ex­ec­u­tives of Aus­tralia’s four largest banks wrote to the govern­ment on Thurs­day re­quest­ing a “prop­erly con­sti­tuted in­quiry.”

The banks said un­cer­tainty was “hurt­ing con­fi­dence” in the in­dus­try.

By es­tab­lish­ing a royal com­mis­sion Turn­bull has staved off a bid by La­bor to have Par­lia­ment con­duct its own in­quiry into mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions.

“On­go­ing spec­u­la­tion and fear­mon­ger­ing about a bank­ing in­quiry or royal com­mis­sion is dis­rup­tive and risks un­der­min­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of Aus­tralia’s world-class fi­nan­cial sys­tem,” Turn­bull said in a state­ment.

“The govern­ment has de­cided to es­tab­lish this royal com­mis­sion to fur­ther en­sure our fi­nan­cial sys­tem is work­ing ef­fi­ciently and ef­fec­tively,” he added.

But Turn­bull said the royal com­mis­sion “will not put cap­i­tal­ism on trial.”

The in­quiry was wel­comed by Jeff Mor­ris, a fi­nan­cial plan­ner who in 2013 ex­posed a cul­ture of cor­rup­tion and cover-up in the Com­mon­wealth Bank of Aus­tralia, the na­tion’s largest bank, that tar­geted vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers.

Mor­ris ear­lier had ac­cused the govern­ment of “run­ning a pro­tec­tion racket for the banks” by re­ject­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion for a royal com­mis­sion in­quiry into the Com­mon­wealth Bank.

“There has been quite clearly un­eth­i­cal ac­tion from the ev­i­dence that I have seen, ... fraud­u­lent and per­haps even crim­i­nal ac­tion,” Chris­tensen said. “This is sys­temic.”

Josh Men­nen, prin­ci­pal at Mau­rice Black­burn Lawyers, said the royal com­mis­sion must be widerang­ing to end scan­dals and to bring about sub­stan­tial re­form. He said the scan­dals re­flected deeply in­grained prob­lems that have fi­nan­cially ruined thou­sands of Aus­tralians. – AP

Peo­ple walk past a Com­mon­wealth Bank branch in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. Photo: AP

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