ANZ fires 200 staff for wrong­do­ing

Gulf Times Business - - BUSINESS -

Aus­tralia and New Zealand Bank­ing Group fired over 200 staff for wrong­do­ing, in­clud­ing se­nior ex­ec­u­tives, due in part to is­sues raised at a pub­lic in­quiry into fi­nan­cial sec­tor mis­con­duct, ANZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Shayne El­liott said yes­ter­day.

In his first pub­lic com­ments ad­dress­ing crit­i­cism lev­elled at the bank in the in­quiry’s in­terim re­port, El­liott said the coun­try’s third-big­gest lender would take a tougher ap­proach to pun­ish­ing bad con­duct.

“We should dis­miss peo­ple when they are grossly neg­li­gent or when they do things that are clearly bad and cause cus­tomer harm,” El­liott told par­lia­ment’s House Eco­nom­ics Com­mit­tee. “My com­mit­ment is to make sure that I do hold peo­ple to ac­count.”

In the past year, about 10 se­nior ANZ ex­ec­u­tives had been dis­missed for is­sues re­lated to mis­con­duct, El­liott said.

The com­ments re­flect the pres­sure Aus­tralia’s highly prof­itable ma­jor banks are un­der to im­prove gov­er­nance since the quasi-ju­di­cial in­quiry, or Royal Com­mis­sion, exposed wide­spread mis­con­duct across the fi­nan­cial sec­tor.

In al­most 60 pub­lic hear­ings, the in­quiry has re­vealed sys­temic prob­lems in in­cen­tive ar­range­ments used to re­ward staff for sell­ing prod­ucts to peo­ple who did not need them or could not af­ford them.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port pub­lished last month, all four ma­jor Aus­tralian banks also charged cus­tomers for ser­vices-notren­dered and some took fees out of dead client accounts.

The year-long Royal Com­mis­sion has re­ceived more than 9,000 sub­mis­sions by ag­grieved cus­tomers and has scru­ti­nised a hand­ful of spe­cific cases that have stunned the coun­try.

ANZ’s El­liott said he took per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for the fail­ures that have oc­curred since he took the reins of the bank in 2016 and that he was ap­palled by the re­port’s find­ings.

“It was pretty sad­den­ing to read the re­port. It made me feel em­bar­rassed for the in­dus­try,” said El­liott, who also chairs the lobby group, the Aus­tralian Bankers’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

“See­ing the im­pact that we’ve had on in­di­vid­ual cus­tomers... was em­bar­rass­ing and shock­ing.” El­liott or­dered a re­view of how ANZ had treated a num­ber of clients men­tioned in the in­terim re­port by Ken­neth Hayne, the former-judge lead­ing the Royal Com­mis­sion.

“We have bro­ken the trust of many of our cus­tomers for which we un­re­servedly apol­o­gise and there’s no ex­cuse for that.”

ANZ said on Mon­day it would take a A$711mn ($506.59mn) hit to profit partly due to higher costs for com­pen­sat­ing cus­tomers stung by poor bank­ing prac­tices. The bank’s full-year re­sults are due Oc­to­ber 31.

Other banks and wealth man­agers are also set­ting aside cash to re­struc­ture their busi­nesses, de­fend law­suits and com­pen­sate cus­tomers, while brac­ing for tougher laws and tighter mar­gins.

The heads of Com­mon­wealth Bank of Aus­tralia and West­pac Bank­ing Corp said at a par­lia­men­tary hear­ing on Thurs­day that they were wrong to op­pose the Royal Com­mis­sion, in con­trast to the in­dus­try’s de­fi­ant tone be­fore the in­quiry be­gan in Fe­bru­ary.

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