Big bad advice could bring inquiry knocking
A parliamentary inquiry has prompted loud calls for a royal commission into banks and financial planning, but the Finance Minister says it is being covered already.
A 500 page report was handed down this week, it includes over sixty recommendations following an investigation of a Commonwealth Bank fraud scandal that left thousands of customers millions of dollars out-of-pocket.
One recommendation was that a royal commission be launched into the conditions that let so many be deprived of their hard-earned money, and why the regulator - the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's (ASIC) – was so slow in its investigations and actions.
Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who first alerted ASIC to the misconduct of advisors at CBA, has told ABC News that something needs to be done.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says part of the proposed inquiry will be covered by one already underway.
“I've had conversations with the senior leadership at the CBA... once I've properly studied the report I would expect that I would have some further conversations,” he said.
“We already have a financial systems inquiry which is currently underway, so without pre-empting the Government's response, obviously that financial systems inquiry's considering the role of ASIC as part of our financial system.”
The committee's chairman Labor Senator Mark Bishop said the call for an inquiry was not a polite suggestion.
“This is not a recommendation that the committee has made lightly, but the evidence the committee has received is so shocking and the credibility of both ASIC and the CBA is so compromised that a royal commission really is warranted,” he said.
The report comes just week after CBA was forced to re-open its compensation process up for the 4000 customers it failed to inform were eligible for a $5000 independent assessment of their CBA compensation offer.
This confusion by ASIC and CBA over compensation was covered in the report, which said it had “only deepened the committee’s misgivings about the integrity and fairness of the process”.
Confidence in ASIC’s ability to monitor CBA’s implementation their undertakings around the compensation process were “severely undermined”.
The report also points to instances of “fabricated documents and forged signatures” and some cases of compensation being “manifestly inadequate”.
In a statement released on Thursday night, CBA said it reiterated its previous apology for the events.
“We deeply regret that some of our financial advisers did not provide quality advice to customers, some of whom had trusted and banked with us for decades. We have no tolerance for behaviour that prejudices the financial wellbeing of our customers”.