An Australian inquiry into the financial services sector heard tearful testimony from a nurse who lost her home after taking advice from a major lender, and that the country’s biggest bank knowingly charged dead clients for counsel.
The testimony was among the most personal yet at the Royal Commission that has already resulted in startling admissions of bad behaviour by firms. Government data prepared for the inquiry shows over 80,000 consumers have been given bad advice over the past decade, costing them a total A$5 billion (€3.1bn).
Coverage of the inquiry, initially resisted by Australia’s centre-right government, has dominated newspaper front pages, TV chat shows and talk-back radio across the country.
Treasurer Scott Morrison this week raised the prospect of jail terms for the worst executive offenders, while regulators have flagged tougher oversight and penalties for the biggest sector of the Australian economy.
The inquiry also heard that Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s largest bank, withdrew advice fees from dead people’s accounts.
Meanwhile, the country’s largest wealth manager, AMP, has admitted it lied to the regulator to cover up charging thousands of customers for services they did provide. AMP has lost over A$1.2bn in market value since the revelations came to light earlier this week.