Fri, Oct 12, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Australian bank CEOs apologize for series of scandals


Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief executive officer Matthew Comyn yesterday said he is committed to restoring trust in the lender after a series of bruising scandals and mistreatment of customers.

Comyn was the first chief executive of Australia’s four big banks to appear in front of a parliamentary committee after a report last month strongly criticized the industry for pursuing profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty.

“We have seen far too many instances of unacceptable customer outcomes,” Comyn told the committee in Canberra.

There were “failures of judgment, failures of process, failures of leadership and in some instances greed,” he said.

The government-appointed inquiry uncovered a litany of wrongdoing, ranging from charging dead people for services to lying to regulators about misconduct, triggering a sharp fall in banks’ share prices this year.

Over the past two weeks, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and Westpac Banking Corp have said that profits would be hit by additional costs related to cleaning up their businesses.

“I’d like once again to apologize unreservedly to the customers we’ve let down,” Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer told the committee.

The Royal Commission report was “incredibly confronting” he said.

While overall economic growth remains sound, we are seeing increasing uncertainty,” Hartzer said. “Regulatory changes that impact how much individuals can borrow, the cost and availability of credit for business, or the availability and affordability of suitable financial advice should be considered carefully.”

ANZ Bank chief executive Shayne Elliott is to testify today and National Australia Bank Ltd chief executive Andrew Thorburn appears next week.

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