Category Archives: BANKS

Commonwealth Bank of Australia loses out to having royal commission secrets kept from public

The CBA has lost its attempt to have its secret, commercially sensitive information kept from the public in its evidence given to the banking royal commission.

CBA had asked for a ream of information included in the statement provided by its executive general manager, retail products, Clive Richard van Hore, to the royal commission not to be published.

Commonwealth Bank has lost its bid to have its secrets not published by the royal commission.

The information included the bank’s correspondence with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, internal documents, and details of its remediation scheme.

The application related to the evidence presented regarding the bank’s credit card-plus product.

It is understood other major banks were planning to ask for similar non-disclosures or had already asked ahead of the decision made by Commissioner Kenneth Hayne.

“Apart from the one case where a particular customer’s name and policy number
would otherwise have been revealed, none of the particular information in respect of
which CBA sought directions was shown to be of a kind that should not be published,” Commissioner Hayne said.

“CBA identified no damage to itself or any other person that would follow from
publication of the material. Subject to the direction described above, the application
is otherwise refused.”

Commissioner Hayne said he encouraged the approach of the CBA to make such a request while the statement was still in draft form.

A spokesman for the bank said it appreciated the decision from the royal commission.

The royal commission will have its first round of hearings from March 13. The first fortnight will look at case studies about areas including home loans, car loans, credit cards, add-on insurance, credit offers and account admin.

Henry Sapiecha

Westpac refunds $65m to 200,000 customers over discount errors

Westpac is refunding $65 million to about 200,000 customers after it failed to pass on benefits they should have received under package deals offered by the bank.

The bank on Thursday said an internal review had detected problems whereby it failed to automatically pay consumers all the benefits they were entitled to under packages sold through Westpac, St George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne.

“When we identified these issues, we started the process of putting things right for customers. We also notified ASIC [regulator the Australian Securities and Investments Commission],” Mr Frazis said in a statement.

“Westpac apologises unreservedly for a process that did not suit customers. By automating the discounts, we have ensured that our customers will not be affected in this way again.”

Under the packages, customers were meant to get discounts on products including home loans, credit cards and transaction accounts, but the bank said it had not given the discounts on “ancillary” products including home and contents insurance.

The chief executive of Westpac’s consumer bank, George Frazis, apologised and said all affected customers would receive refunds.

The refunds are expected to total $65 million, or $45 million after tax, and will be included in its upcoming full-year results.

The refunds being paid by Westpac are for customers who took out “Premier Advantage” or “Advantage” packages with the bank from 2010.

Earlier this month, Mr Frazis said Westpac would also scrap “outdated” rules that resulted in customers being charged fees if they made more than a certain number of transactions each month, and it put a $5 cap on personal account-keeping fees.

News of the refund comes as National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank will appear before the federal government’s banking inquiry on Friday, following last week’s questioning of Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer and ANZ Bank chief Shayne Elliott.

Henry Sapiecha