Banks inquiry wants more misconduct info

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

However, some banks had objected to the deadline, saying they could not meet it and demonstrated "an inability to provide five years of information", Commissioner Hayne said.

Hayne said he twice asked several banks and superannuation funds to provide responses to a series of questions before today's opening hearing - specifically around the nature, extent and effect of any misconduct over the past five to 10 years.

Hayne said the commission will not have time to hear every case of alledged misconduct in the financial services industry.

The first round of hearing will start in one month's time.

The former High Court judge also noted that under the Royal Commissions Act, no injury can be done to someone who gives evidence or produces a document under a notice of summons.

"The very fact that an institution sought to inhibit or prevent the disclosure of information would incite the closest attention not only to the lawfulness of that conduct by the institution but also to what were the institutions motives in the seeking to prevent the commission having that information".

"Suing the person would nearly certainly fall within that prohibition", he said on Monday.

The royal commission - the country's top form of public inquiry - will investigate alleged and established misconduct in the sector.

Home and vehicle loans plus credit cards are likely to be the focus of the first commission hearing that will take public evidence, probably early next month.

Consumers appeared not to have "always enjoyed the right to be treated honestly and fairly" when it came to home lending, with examples of "breaches of the law and not meeting community standards", she said.

The royal commission has so far received 385 public submissions with almost one third of the submissions relating to the way banks dealt with personal finance, 17 per cent relating to superannuation and 13 per cent relating to small business dealings by banks.

A further 9 per cent of complaints to the commission related to financial advice.

The commission said it has received about 385 submissions to date and that the number of submissions has been growing each week since the commission allowed the public to submit evidence online.

The paper points to the role of authorised-deposit taking (ADI) institutions, which hold 55 per cent of the total assets of Australian financial institutions.

Australian Bankers' Association head Anna Bligh said the hearings may be uncomfortable.