“I don’t want a lawyer to tell me what I cannot do! I hire him to tell me how to do what I want to do!” – J. P. Morgan
Malcolm Turnbull was once a lawyer. A good one at that from what I can gather. That might explain his current attitude towards the banks. No doubt, some of his clients were lying through their teeth when he was hired to defend them. Even so, he would be the first to tell you that he had a duty to defend his clients to the best of his ability even if they were as guilty as sin! That’s the way our legal system works. I have no beef with that.
The only problem in this case is that in this particular instance he’s got his clients mixed up. We, the people of Australia, are his clients, not the banks. We are paying his salary and we are the ones he should be defending to the best of his ability.
In our case, however, he has changed sides. By so doing he has his work cut out because it is difficult to defend these criminals with their long rap sheets. Mr. Turnbull has taken sides and so must we.
I have been a Liberal Party supporter since I arrived in this country in 1972. However, I know nothing will change in this country in relation to the banking sector until someone is found that will take these banks on. Bill shorten is hardly my idea of a people’s champion because like most politicians, he’s self-serving. Having said that, he has promised us something we desperately need; a royal commission into banking. For me and Helen, this is a vote changer.
When a Party that I have supported these many years tells me that there is no need for a royal commission into one of the most corrupt sectors of our business community because regulations are already in place to control the behaviour of the banks, and things aren’t really that bad, anyway, I know they have lost the plot. Further, we are being treated as fools.
The Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull and the Treasure, Mr. Scott Morrison, in their dismissing of a Royal Commission have demonstrated to me that this Government is either in denial or there is an unhealthy nexus between this Government and the banks. Either way, we lose.
By pigheadedly supporting such an unconscionable banking philosophy, this Government is putting the welfare of the banks above the welfare of the people. In so doing, it has lost our trust and respect. It therefore no longer deserves to govern.
How much more evidence is required before these politicians are willing to act? How many more people need to be deceived by these banks before they are brought to account?
There are two cancerous growths on our society in this country that need immediate radiation treatment. One is the banking sector and the other one is the trade union movement. Both have been tainted by self-interest. Both have been corrupted. The next election will therefore be a trade-off. You can either vote for the Labor Party that allows unions to ride rough shod over the building sector or vote for the Liberals who allow the Banks to bugger us all financially.
Which is the lesser of the two evils, you must ask yourselves? Which in its own way has a more devastating effect on the citizens of this country; a ballsed-up Union movement or a crooked Banking Sector?”
Whilst Union corruption is abhorrent to all of us and it should never be tolerated, it doesn’t have the same damaging impact on the lives of ordinary Australians as dishonest banks do. Often, the devastation that the Banks can cause to their customers’ financial welfare is terminal. What’s more, the elderly of this country are most at risk because they are the most vulnerable. They are easy targets.
People of my vintage (I’m 74) grew up in an atmosphere of trust. As far as we were concerned Banks were beyond reproach. Indeed, many of them were in those days. Somewhere along the way, the colour of the banks has changed from purple for trust to red for danger.
Banking should have at its very core a culture of ‘probity’ – “an adherence to the highest principles and ideals”. Instead, the banking sector in this country is driven by greed which fosters deceit. The Government, however, refuses to acknowledge this fact despite overwhelming proof to hand of the banks’ perfidy.
Why do I feel so strongly about this? I fought the banks for 7 years after becoming one of the victims of Storm Financial who worked in league with the banks. Now, the Liberal Party by deflecting calls for a Royal Commission into banking is telling me and those thousands of others that have become the victims of banking chicanery that we don’t count. We are irrelevant!
The comments made by Messrs Turnbull and Morrison are not only untruthful but they are also designed to hoodwink us. They are trying to convince us that the banks are as pure as the driven snow and we are all imagining things. The banks’ turpitude is just a figment of our imagination. It’s merely bad press and propaganda.
What kind of pushovers do they take us for? We, the people that have suffered at the hands of the banks, know the full story because we are among their victims. We number in the thousands if not the tens of thousands.
MEDIA REPORT: “Malcolm Turnbull says Australia already has a strong regulatory structure to deal with the banking sector despite saying banks had failed to put customers first. He went on to say that Bill Shorten’s call for a royal commission into the banking industry is just another distraction, just a thought bubble, to respond to the news of the week
The critical thing here is that the high standards of putting the customer first, of ensuring that the trust of the community is justified,” Turnbull said. “That requires leadership from senior bank managers and they are providing that leadership and they will provide more. We have a strong regulatory structure to do that.”
He said the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority had sufficient powers to regulate the banking industry.”
Mr. Morrison echoed Mr. Turnbull’s sentiments:
“In a robust interview with Radio National presenter Fran Kelly, Mr Morrison accused Mr Shorten of playing politics by suggesting Australia’s banks were motivated by a culture of greed.”
“He further claimed the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) was “doing its job” policing the finance sector and Labor’s suggestion it might undertake a Royal Commission should it win this year’s Federal Election was putting confidence at risk.”
These two politicians are basically saying that we should trust the banks and ASIC to do the right thing. Isn’t that what we’ve been doing all along? That’s how we got in this mess to start with! Surely, they must know that banks just can’t be trusted. The Banks have proved that to us over and over again. We place our faith in banks and they repay us by ripping us off!
Turnbull and Morrison are also telling us that ASIC has sufficient powers to regulate the banking industry. This may well be so, but they haven’t explained to us why ASIC has continually failed to do just that!. Not once, not twice but three times in the last 8 years, we’ve had major financial scandals: Storm Financial, CBA Financial Planners, and CBA CommInsure.
ASIC, in all three cases, by “reacting after the event” rather than when first being notified, exacerbated the losses of those involved. Indeed, it could be argued strongly that this lack of action by ASIC turned these events from operable to fatal because no action was taken by ASIC to contain them when it had the chance. As a consequence, this stream of losses became a tsunami.
According to Mr. Morrison, “ASIC was doing its job!” What job would that be, pray?
ASIC has demonstrated to us all over and over again that it can’t do its job, either because it is hampered by bureaucracy or it is being mishandled from within. Perhaps both!
There could even be something more sinister at play?
Here’s an example of our tough cop at work:
“Explosive claims on JP Morgan conduct
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD – Business Day
Michael West May 26, 2014
A technical support person who worked for JP Morgan in Australia claims the bank regularly misled its New York parent and the US Federal Reserve by failing to report losing trades.
The explosive allegations are contained in a submission by the person to the Senate inquiry into the performance of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
Business Day has met the person and agreed to allow him to remain anonymous. He appears to be credible.
The person complained to ASIC and later went to work for the regulator, but he said the regulator failed to investigate his claims.
A spokesman for JP Morgan denied the allegations. "The claims are false and misleading," he said.
In his submission, published by the inquiry, the person said he was employed at the Sydney office of JP Morgan between 2004 and 2007. He worked for a team involved in the post-trade management of the bank's OTC (over the counter) equity derivative business for the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2007, before the global financial crisis, he became increasingly concerned by "certain practices that appeared to circumvent regulatory commitments and risk management expectations," he said.
• misleading reports being provided to head office and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on the number of outstanding trades.
• Trades not being booked into the system until they were ''in-the-money''.
• Trades not booked into systems and only being tracked by paper-based legal agreements, which would be ''torn up'' if required, thereby leaving no trace.
• Bypassing or attempting to bypass the opinions of in-house lawyers to complete work faster, even if this resulted in incorrect legal agreements being signed by the traders and sent to other major banks as final confirmation of the terms of the trade.
The person said he sought to discuss his concerns with lower and middle management but was warned that ''front office would get rid of me if I persisted''.
'JP Morgan's 'Worldwide Rules of Conduct' state: 'The most important rule is also the most general: never sacrifice integrity, or give the impression you have, even if you think that it would help JP Morgan Chase business.'
''In support of this policy, I lodged a complaint with senior management fully expecting to be able to discuss all my concerns and receive guidance from the relevant departments, including legal and compliance. This did not occur and instead I immediately stopped being paid.''
He said his inquiries resulted in him being threatened that his employment would be terminated because of the complaint. The person was employed by an agency.
''I was informed that I would not be paid my outstanding salary and any future salary until I signed a new employment contract reducing my notice period from one month to one week,'' he said.
''My contract was terminated shortly after for 'economic reasons'.
''I had no contact with senior management or legal and compliance and no opportunity was provided.''
The person lodged a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman and said he authorised and urged the agency to contact ASIC but that it declined to pursue the matter.
The person formally reported his claims of misconduct to ASIC on November 27, 2008. He subsequently met two ASIC employees on January 5, 2009, at the regulator's Martin Place offices.
He claimed the officers displayed little understanding of the matters raised and asked why he had made a misconduct report.
''The interviewers were surprised and somewhat incredulous by my response that I believed it was the right thing to do,'' he said.
''The overall feeling that the interview conveyed was that ASIC was unprepared to accept reports of misconduct and had no skills to manage such matters. The meeting ended and, though I advised I was ready to provide further assistance, I was not contacted by ASIC. As far as I am aware ASIC never contacted the Fair Work Ombudsman.''
On May 16, 2012, the person addressed an online inquiry to ASIC (attached to his Senate submission) regarding the whistle-blower protections in the Corporations Act.
He said the regulator declined to afford him whistle-blower protection. A report from the Senate inquiry is due on Friday but is likely to be delayed.”
Me thinks that there is “something rotten in the state of Denmark” or to be more precise, within ASIC!
If this is true, and I have no doubt that it is because it is on the public record, this smacks of mafia like intimidation.
There is so much corruption going on in banking circles at the moment that nothing would surprise me anymore. Are government members involved? Is this why nothing has been done to date other than holding inquiries that all point to one thing. This sector of business is FUBAR!
I cannot believe for a moment that we don’t have within Government sufficient nous to fix this mess. Therefore, there must be other forces that are working to sabotage any efforts to find solutions. A royal commission is the only way that the general public, will ever get an insight into this. Therefore, a royal commission is a must!
These asinine comments by Turnbull and Morrison and their failure to admit that the banking sector is seriously defective, convinces me that the Liberal Party support the banks’ philosophy that, “Greed is good!” By refusing to see what is self-evident to the ordinary man and woman in the streets, Turnbull and Morrison are insulting the people that elected them in the first place.
Is this Government so out of touch with reality that it can blithely disregard what the Banks have done? Do they really think that we cannot see through this Government’s artifice?
To state that the call for a Royal Commission is merely “a distraction” is an affront to the many thousands of ordinary Australians who have been ruined by banks since self-regulation came into being. Were the Storm Financial, the CBA Financial Planners and the CBA CommInsure disasters merely a diversion to be disregarded as unimportant? Clearly, Turnbull and Morrison think so!
Certainly they may have been a distraction for the rogue Banks who took part and were then caught, but they spelled financial oblivion for the Banks’ customers who were involved. I was a victim of the Storm Financial debacle and witnessed first-hand the ruin it caused to the thousands that were inveigled in this financial disaster.
Has anyone read the Senate Economics References Committee’s report entitled, ‘Performance of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’ dated June 2014?’ Obviously, Turnbull and Morrison haven’t! Well, I have and it makes for very interesting reading! It’s a horror story ‘nonpareil’. Here are just a few snippets (in BLUE text) that Messrs Turnbull and Morrison have chosen to overlook in their assessment of ASIC. I’ll start with ASIC and its involvement with Storm Financial because I had a front row seat for this one
1. STORM FINANCIAL
“17.9 A significant number of submissions referred to various aspects of ASIC's actions following the collapse of Storm Financial. A key area of complaint was ASIC's last minute settlement with the CBA instead of pursuing court proceedings; one submission characterised this act as 'the mother of all back flips'.
Another submission, from a husband and wife who requested that their name not be made public, stated that they feel 'ASIC has let us down when they worked a deal with the CBA without allowing the case to be shown for all of the facts'. ASIC's intervention in an $82.5 million settlement between former Storm Financial investors and Macquarie Bank brought about by a class action was also came under criticism.
Further, investors were curious as to why ASIC initiated compensation proceedings against the Bank of Queensland, Senrac and Macquarie on behalf of two investors but no other clients:
They managed to make a deal with Macquarie for their client (Doyles) which ensured that no precedent was set for other investors who were treated equally poorly by Macquarie Bank. They (ASIC) then appealed a decision, approved by the Federal Court that saw a similar successful negotiation by the Class Action against Macquarie Bank overturned because ASIC believed that deal to be unfair. ASIC did not consider fairness when it negotiated a deal for the Doyles which left every other Storm Financial (Macquarie Bank) investor out of any consideration for compensation even though they suffered a similar fate to the Doyles.”
15.18 Ms Anne Lampe questioned ASIC's management of complaints. While working at ASIC's media unit, she became aware that ASIC received frequent complaints about 'dodgy and suspect investment schemes as well as lost investments in failed companies'. Ms Lompe found that the complaints were 'dutifully logged and filed'; their recording was methodical; and records well kept. Her concern was that action stalled with the recording and filing of the reports and that 'too many complaints remained buried in the archives'
15.19 She recalled writing articles after Storm's collapse when she learnt first-hand from other financial advisers about the lead-up to the failure. According to Ms Lampe the advisers had known what was happening at Storm and had contacted ASIC well before its demise warning that Storm was overleveraging elderly clients and had put them in a one-product-suits-all model rather than taking into account investors’ individual needs to draw up an appropriate financial plan. The advisors reported that investors were at great risk. One lot of intel came from an internal Storm source.
15.20 In Ms Lampe's opinion, ASIC could have taken on board the warnings and whistle-blower complaints and used its power to review client files—a random sample to see 'whether Storm advisors were drawing up appropriate individual financial plans to meet the needs of its clients'. She suggested: That would have shown whether each investment plan was different, or whether they were all stamped from the same template. Such an inquiry would have shown that there was a sameness and a high risk and alarmingly high borrowing component in each client file. In short it (ASIC) should take whistle-blowers seriously, rather than shunning them as troublemakers with an axe to grind.
15.21 One person in the financial services industry stated that he knew for a fact that: ‘many people in Queensland tried to warn ASIC about Storm but on all occasions these warnings were ignored. A far more pro-active approach by people who understood the true nature and risk of the Storm Financial methodology could, I believe, have saved an awful lot of time, money, anxiety for all concerned.
Mr. Ralph Norris, the CEO of the CBA at the time, had this to say about that Bank’s complicity in the Storm Financial affair:
“Commonwealth Bank CEO Ralph Norris apologises to Storm clients
Newcom.au October 29, 2009
Mr Norris was grilled last night during the final public hearing of a parliamentary inquiry examining the failure of the Townsville-based firm, which collapsed in January, financially devastating many investors and Commonwealth clients.
"I'm not proud of the relationship that we had with Storm," Mr Norris told the hearing in Canberra.
Mr Norris said the CBA had sacked staff, improved its lending practices and had audited its business to ensure another "Storm-type situation" did not happen again.
Both CBA and Macquarie said they were making numerous margin calls on other investors during the period of the share market collapse, but clients with other institutions did not suffer the same devastating complications as those who had invested with Storm.
The bank also recommended the Australian Securities and Investments Commission analyse proposed financial investment models to determine how risky they were and said it was now clear Storm's own model was "not appropriate" for some customers.
Some five years later, the CBA was found out again when the CCFPL scandal came to light. In the five years that had passed, the CBA did zilch to rectify its methods of doing business. In fact that Bank’s propensity for greed increased.
(2) COMMONWEALTH FINANCIAL PLANNING (CCFPL)
8.52 At this stage, the committee's confidence in ASIC's ability to monitor the CBA' simplementation of its new undertaking regarding the compensation process is severely undermined. Furthermore, the CBA's credibility in the CFPL matter is so compromised that responsibility for the compensation process should be taken away from the bank. The committee considered five options to finally resolve the CFPL matter. But, given the seriousness of the misconduct and the need for all client files to be reviewed, the committee believes that an inquiry with sufficient investigative and discovery powers should be established by the government to undertake this work. To resolve this matter conclusively and satisfactorily, the inquiry would need the powers to compel relevant people to give evidence and to produce information or documents.
The committee is of the view that a royal commission into these matters is warranted.”
Executive summary: The CFPL scandal needs to stand as a lesson for the entire financial services sector. Firms should understand that they cannot turn a blind eye to unprincipled employees who do whatever it takes to make profits at the expense of vulnerable investors. If this matter is not pursued thoroughly, there will be little incentive for Australia's major financial institutions to take compliance seriously.
The committee believes that the CBA's characterisation of the misconduct at CFPL as 'inappropriate advice' provided by 'a small number' of CFPL advisers, deliberately and grossly understates the extent of the wrongdoing within CFPL. The committee believes the phrase 'inappropriate advice' comprehensively fails to capture the deceptive and misleading conduct of CFPL financial advisers. Indeed, the committee heard compelling evidence that client signatures were forged and/or misused by CFPL financial advisers, and while the committee reserves judgement on whether this activity would provide a basis for criminal action, it suggests that to characterise such activity as 'inappropriate' is, in itself, entirely inappropriate. Further, the phrase 'inappropriate advice' does not capture the systemic failures in the CFPL's business operations, including the ineffective compliance regime andtoxic sales-based culture fostered by flawed remuneration arrangements.
“8.1 One of the committee's major concerns during this inquiry was the misconduct by financial advisers and other staff at Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited (CFPL), part of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Group (CBA), and what some regard as ASIC's failure to respond to reports of this misconduct in a timely and effective manner.
8.8 In its first written submission on the CFPL matter, ASIC outlined the various aspects of the conduct of individual CFPL advisers that most concerned the regulator and were the subject of regulatory action.
• failing to have a reasonable basis for advice;
• failing to provide Statements of Advice;
• making statements that were false or misleading in a material particular;
• making forecasts that were misleading, false or deceptive;
• failing to make reasonable inquiries before implementing advice;
• providing asset allocation advice far above that recommended for the client's
• risk profile; and
• failing to complete 'financial needs analysis' documentation.
“8.30 Mr Morris explained that, following Mr Nguyen's suspension from CFPL in September 2008, he personally witnessed the workings of a CFPL management conspiracy to cover up Mr Nguyen's wrongdoing. His version of events, if accurate,would indicate a coordinated and systematic effort by CFPL/the CBA to mislead Mr Nguyen's clients and discourage them from pursuing compensation claims, and is worth quoting at length:
‘Contrary to what was said earlier [by CBA representatives appearing before the committee on 10 April 2014, CFPL management knew Nguyen had done all the things he was accused of; he was caught red-handed. They announced he had been suspended for fraud and he would not be coming back. The trouble is that, with the GFC going on, they needed a planner to hose down Nguyen's clients who were complaining.
They offered his client book to another planner. They gave him his phone. After a week of this, of all the client complaints ringing up, and being told by the complaints people that they were not going to do anything for them, he threw the phone back and he said he would not have anything to do with it.
So they brought Nguyen back and reinstated him and promoted him so that he could fob off the clients and discourage them from making complaints about what had happened.
At the same time, they had done a file review and they had found photocopied risk profiles in his fact files. The risk profile is probably the most critical thing a planner does.
Nguyen just gave everybody more or less the same risk profile. He got to the point where he just photocopied them. They found this in 2008, and he should have been dismissed at that point. But they brought him back for two reasons. One was to hose down the client complaints. The other was to sanitise his files.
They gave him a second assistant to help sanitise the files. I saw him there, day after day, with liquid paper going through changing things in the fact files.
The ‘Game of Thrones’ has nothing on this lot!
9.1 As noted in the previous chapter, the committee received evidence from a number of CFPL clients and their representatives who contend that ASIC's handling of the CFPL matter was inadequate. In varying degrees, these witnesses argued that ASIC:
• erred in not publicly revealing that it had undertaken a surveillance project in relation to CFPL between 2007 to 2008 or that the problems revealed by this surveillance led to the imposition of the Continuous Improvement Compliance Program (CICP) in April 2008—this non-disclosure, it is suggested, left existing and future CFPL clients exposed to losses that might otherwise have been prevented;
• was slow to respond to whistle-blower information about misconduct at CFPL, resulting in further losses to unsuspecting clients and enabling CFPL/the CBA to cover-up the extent of the misconduct at CFPL and thereby deny fair and reasonable compensation to victims; and
• has generally acted in a way that has privileged the interests of CFPL/the CBA over the interests of affected CFPL clients, and failed to provide adequate information or support to those clients.
9.2 Also, the CICP implemented in April 2008 proved to be an inadequate response to the misconduct at CFPL, and one that placed too much store in the ability and willingness of CFPL/the CBA to address the problems that had been detected effectively.
Now we come to the third financial scandal and you will note that the CBA plays a starring role in that too! Three strikes and they should be out!
(3) CBA INSURE COMMINSURE
“Calls for inquiry into shocking revelations about CBA insurer CommInsure
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: ABC News - AM Current Affairs Program – March 8, 2016
The Commonwealth Bank is facing calls for an inquiry into the way it handles insurance claims after shocking revelations contained in a joint investigation by Four Corners and Fairfax.
A former chief medical officer for the bank's insurance arm, CommInsure, has revealed the company has routinely denied legitimate claims from sick and dying people.
He says CommInsure uses outdated testing methods and pressures doctors to change their opinions when assessing claims.
Labor spokesman Jim Chalmers says the Opposition would support a Senate inquiry into the practices by CommInsure.David Taylor has our report.
DAVID TAYLOR: The insurance arm of the Commonwealth Bank, CommInsure, stands accused of unethical treatment of its customers in their hour of need.
COMMINSURE CUSTOMER 1: I'm thinking like you mongrels. You do this for how many years? Like, I would have been better off saving the money and putting it into something else and would still have the money.
COMMINSURE CUSTOMER 2: You're taking people's funds from them. You're not, you know, taking any less of a premium or anything like that. Those premiums keep getting higher and higher every year, but you're denying people.
ADELE FERGUSON: They're still taking your premiums? Oh yeah, premiums are still being taken. There's no question about that.
DAVID TAYLOR: These are just a few of the cases highlighted in the joint Four Corners- Fairfax investigation.
The CBA has been accused of clinging to outdated definitions of illnesses and dragging out procedures so people might die before their payout comes through.
The Commonwealth Bank's CEO, Ian Narev, says the insurer's actions are not consistent with the company's overall ethics and values.
IAN NAREV: We are, as you mentioned, an institution that wants to hold ourselves to the highest standards. That doesn't mean that we can be perfect, but we want to hold ourselves to those standards. And the cases that these clients have had are just not good enough and we have let them down.
DAVID TAYLOR: He spoke to RN Breakfast.
IAN NAREV: These people have had a poor experience, but this business has four million customers. It pays out about 22,000 claims a year.
And under the statistics of the financial ombudsman service I think you're likelihood to make a complaint is something like two per 100,000 complaints. So the high level statistics of this business are that it's doing its job.
DAVID TAYLOR: The program also aired claims from CommInsure's former chief medical officer, who only wanted to be referred to as Dr Koh, that it pressured doctors to rewrite medical opinions so the company could avoid payouts to sick and dying people.
Dr Koh was sacked in 2015 after being accused of sending internal documents to his
personal email, which he said he did because files were going missing.
DR KOH: They were quite blatant about it. Can you please change it or delete so that we can go to someone else to provide another opinion that's more favourable?
DAVID TAYLOR: Labor's spokesman, shadow minister for financial services and superannuation Jim Chalmers, wants to know more about the company's business practices. He says Labor would support a Senate inquiry into the practices by CommInsure. Mr Chalmers says this is also a test for the Government.
JIM CHALMERS: This is a government very quick to pull the trigger on royal commissions when it relates to the union movement. This will be a test of whether they're prepared to take that kind of action when it comes to the disgraceful practices which were highlighted on Four Corners.”
This third scandal was revealed after the Senate Economics References Committee’s report was released. It would seem that the whole of the CBA is rotten through and through.
And we are expected to put our trust in that Bank and its cohorts? How can anyone possibly defend this type of behaviour? It would seem that this lack of ethics by top management in the CBA permeated down the line; a contagion that just kept spreading:
Sydney Morning Herald Business Day
Commonwealth Bank staff implicated in alleged $76m fraud
February 4, 2016
Cameron Houston and Chris Vedelago
Commonwealth Bank staff were allegedly complicit in a $76 million Ponzi scheme and received secret commissions for their role in the alleged fraud, which was ignored by the bank's management for almost five years - until police were alerted.
The alleged architects of the scam, professional poker player Bill Jordanou and accountant Robert Zaia, will face court in February 2017 and have indicated they will plead not guilty to almost 100 fraud and deception offences.
Mr Jordanou and Mr Zaia are accused of using forged documents to borrow millions of dollars for several property developments that never got off the ground.
Funds were allegedly siphoned from clients' accounts without their consent.
Documents obtained by Fairfax Media reveal the extent of the bank's involvement and its alarming probity failings.
The CBA initially blocked the release of internal documents and emails, but was compelled by a court order to hand them over to one of the victims - Melbourne property developer Nick Fotopoulos - who lost more than $5 million and has launched a civil action against the bank.
A CBA spokeswoman declined to make any comment while the matter was before court.
Australia's biggest lender also refused to explain why it failed to alert police of fraud allegations involving Mr Jordanou and Mr Zaia until 2011, despite being aware of them in February 2007.
At least two mobile lenders, employed by CBA to visit clients at their home or place of work (and whom Fairfax has decided not to name), were involved in the alleged fraud but were never charged with any offences.
Several other bank employees processed dozens of loan applications, which were supported by allegedly forged documents.
One of the mobile lenders died suddenly from a brain aneurysm in 2007, while the other is expected to testify against Mr Jordanou and Mr Zaia in court next year.
In an email on August 11 2010, one of the mobile lenders was asked by Mr Jordanou to provide the undrawn balances and monthly loan repayments of eight CBA customers.
Allegedly forged documents were provided and CBA staff arranged for funds to be transferred between accounts in an apparent bid to avoid detection by customers or bank security.
A bank employee warned Mr Jordanou that one client was in arrears and said: "I don't want to do a mock application for him, as it may automatically place him in a lower category and therefore be declined on the spot."
The payment of secret commissions to mobile lenders appears to have been confirmed during a recorded interview between Mr Zaia and a lawyer on November 23, 2011.
"Yeah he was our contact, he would come into our office ... and he would get paid a commission on the side which is undisclosed," Mr Zaia said to a solicitor at Frenkel Partners.
Two sources linked to Zaia Arthur & Associates told Fairfax Media that both men spent significant amounts of time at the accountant's Scoresby office and received secret payments.
The sources said one of them was also given overseas flights, televisions and alcohol during his decade-long association with Mr Jordanou and Mr Zaia.
One of the CBA lending managers lived in a Narre Warren South home that was later transferred into the name of Mr Jordanou's wife, Sue Jordanou.
Mr Jordanou was a pallbearer at his funeral in 2007.
Mildura plasterer Jim Barker and wife Debbie were the first to raise the alarm when two unauthorised withdrawals totalling $26,000 were made from Ms Barker's account.
The couple also reported to the CBA's fraud investigation unit that a document that stated Mr Barker was paid an annual salary of $343,000 had been forged with the complicity of bank staff to obtain a loan of $1.5 million.
At the time, Mr Barker earned about $80,000 and was unable to service the loan
CBA assessment analyst Andrew Rutherford confirmed their suspicions in an email in May 2007.
"From my initial review of this matter the original loan document ... contains a false statement of employment."
"I am now pursuing the fraud matter of the loan documents, and have requested they report the matter to Scoresby police and present the bank with statutory declarations with their version of events," Mr Rutherford said in the 2007 email.
But the CBA did not contact police until 2011.
While the bank agreed to refund $26,000 for the unauthorised withdrawals, the Barkers were eventually forced to sell their 38 hectare property after the CBA refused to accept the loan documents had also been forged.
Despite a recent claim to be the nation's most "ethical bank", the CBA has rejected requests for compensation and pursued legal action to repossess homes from at least four other customers who claimed their loans were acquired with allegedly fraudulent documents linked Zaia Arthur & Associates.
These latest allegations come as CBA remains under scrutiny from the corporate regulator and Commonwealth government over serious misconduct inside its financial planning division from 2003 to 2012 that put the retirement savings of thousands of customers at risk.
Several CBA financial planners have been banned from practising by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission for providing inappropriate advice, overcharging on commissions and fees, and in some cases, allegedly committing acts of fraud.
CBA recently revealed its review has found more than 1 in 10 files are "missing" for customers who have applied to have their records, accounts and investments reviewed as part of its compensation scheme.
A CBA spokesperson said "CBA has zero tolerance to bribery, corruption and facilitation payments across the business and will continue to cooperate with the police and the legal process as this complicated issue unfolds in the courts."
Lies, lies and more lies! That’s what we keep being fed!
I would say to those in the Liberal Party who have shut their eyes to all this, “Read the Senate Economics References Committee’s report entitled, ‘Performance of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’ dated June 2014 and then tell me that all is sweet and rosy. Read through the Parliamentary Joint-Committee’s final report on the Storm Financial collapse and then try to defend the banking system and ASIC’s role!”.
Turnbull and Morrison believe that if we have a strong banking sector (cashed up) it will insulate this country against another global financial crisis. They want a strong banking sector because they think that if these banks are brimming with assets, it will provide a necessary buffer against a similar event. That’s why the Liberal Party tolerates the skulduggery that is taking place in these banks. We, the people of Australia that fall foul of the rogue elements in these banks are cannon fodder. The victims of these banks are of little concern to the Government. We are merely collateral damage in the scheme of things.
As for ASIC, it muddles along making token efforts at various time to try and justify its own existence. Waiting for ASIC to respond to a complaint is like waiting for a bank executive to tell the truth. Waiting for ASIC to act is like waiting for the planets to align.
“15.38 The committee received many other complaints that are too numerous to detail here about ASIC's supposedly inadequate response to complaints or reports of corporate misconduct. Some additional cases include a report from a compliance officer and internal auditor about an accounting practice providing a 'one shop' service including finance, taxation and financial planning advice. According to the submitter, ASIC took no action which has resulted in mounting client investor losses to a level of $10 million to $15 million. The committee also received a confidential submission dealing with an agricultural managed investment scheme and the alleged misuse of funds.
In this case, the liquidator reported the misuse of funds raised for the scheme to ASIC, alleging that funds had been used to 'prop up' previous projects operated by the responsible entity, which had significant cash flow problems. The submitter informed the committee that they had never been contacted by anyone at ASIC in relation to his complaint, 'apart from a boilerplate response, nor have I heard about any action against the directors of the company.”
When the banks are found out they give a little back and say “Mea Culp”. How many times in the last few years have we heard the CEOs of the CBA, Ralph Norris and Ian Narev, (when they have been caught swindling their customers) say, “We didn’t mean it! It’s all been a big mistake. We will fix it! Rest assured of that” Yet, the rip-offs still go on unceasingly despite their reassurance that this will all change.
The Banks broke every rule in the book in the case of Storm Financial and got away with it. They have done so before Storm’ and since ‘Storm’. They will continue to do so until our Government says, “Enough is enough! We’re not going to put up with it anymore!” This present Government by its refusal to act is sending out a message to all the banks, “Do what the hell you want with our blessing!”
Mr. Morrison alluded to the “confidence” factor. Whose confidence is Mr. Morrison referring to? The confidence of the banks or the confidence of their customers which is at an all-time low?
He also attacked the Labor leader Bill Shorten over calls for a Royal Commission into the banking sector, labelling Mr. Shorten “reckless”. To my mind, the only ones being reckless here are Turnbull and Morrison. Probably, “bloody-minded” would be more apt.
Mr. Morrison has accused Mr Shorten “of playing politics by suggesting Australia’s banks were motivated by a culture of greed.” What else does Mr. Morrison believe the banks are motivated by? A deep sense of compassion for the welfare of their customers perhaps? Give me a break!
Mr. Morrison just doesn’t get it! Self-regulation doesn’t work, and neither does a toothless Regulator.
“Hey! Wait a minute! Don’t Banks have a Banking Code that they must abide by?”
They most certainly do but this is just paper dressing. I can tell you now that the Banking codes are not worth the paper they are written on. Why? Because the banking codes are self-regulatory. When’s the last time any Bank was taken to task because they violated their banking code? Never!
Would anyone with a modicum of common sense ask a criminal to self-regulate his or her own behaviour? Yet the Banks have been involved in criminal behaviour time after time and have gotten away with it. When they are caught, they pay back a little of their ill-gotten gains and the caravan moves on. No criminal rap sheet, no charges, no prison sentences, no condemnation of their behaviour.
It’s all swept under the table by the Government and by a legal system which believes that compromise is better than retribution. Meanwhile, we poor suckers are left to rue the day we placed our trust in those that are legally and morally obligated to protect our interests foremost. Unfortunately, the banks see everything in an arse about face way. They come first and we come a very poor second.
Read my book ‘I ACCUSE’ if you want a full account of the banks’ turpitude which is freely available at - https://sites.google.com/site/stormingonbanks/the-government/attorney-general
So why’s it all been made so easy until now? Why hasn’t something been done about it? Why are we, the people of Australia treated with such contempt by those that control the financial sector? Why doesn’t the Government care?
I’ll tell you why! Because the Government and the Banks by acting together protect their shared vested interests. It’s all really about making money!
As for the legal system, you’re innocent until your money runs out. The courts have now become a money factory for lawyers and the judiciary. It’s ponderous, archaic and bloody expensive. You need to be a successful drug dealer in order to be able to pay your legal costs these days.
All jokes aside though, by adopting this “head in the sand” policy, this Government is affronting the people of this country. Its refusal to accept the truth lends confirmation to the popular belief that there is an unhealthy relationship between the banking sector and the Liberal Government that allows banks to get away with anything. This is particularly so where large banks such as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia are concerned. They seem to be the biggest culprit and they are also the biggest profiteers. The CBA is a national disgrace.
Don’t these Liberal Party politicians read the newspapers or look at the TV media programs we look at such as ‘4 Corners’ and ‘Sixty Minutes’ that have done ‘exposes’ on some of these banks over the years? Don’t they keep up with the times? What cave have they been hiding in? Are they so completely out of touch or are they just indifferent?
Either way, they shouldn’t be driving this country because they have really crashed on this one.
For God’s sake, the Senate financial planning inquiry has established that in the case of the CBA Financial Advisers’ case, “There was forgery and dishonest concealment of material facts…Thousands of Australians have lost their life savings as a result of allegedly shoddy financial advice given to them by planners at the country’s biggest bank”.
The Senate Inquiry “called for “the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to face a royal commission to investigate fraud, forgery and allegations of a cover-up inside its financial planning arm.”
What more does this Government need before it acts? At the time this report came out, the Government knocked a Royal Commission on the head. The CBA CommInsure scandal that has come to light since is now something that cannot be ignored because it’s right up there in their faces. And yet the Government is doing just that? Ignoring the obvious! Heads down, bums up in the sand.
Many banks, not just the CBA, have been getting away with murder for many years now! Many of their customers have committed suicide because they just couldn’t take it anymore. That’s murder in my book. The question now becomes, “Are we, the victims that are left, going to put up with this or are we going to do something about it?”
This Government by acting dumb is declaring its hand. By continuing to ignore the voice of the people, they are disrespecting us. Until now we have been powerless to do anything because we have no say individually. We have one thing going for us at this point in time though and that is our vote. A Federal Election is coming up and we can vote these jokers out of Office. After all, the Labor Party has promised to have a Royal Commission into the Banking Sector and they won’t be able to renege on this.
I must admit that the alternative Government, the Labor Party, is a frightening prospect because its thinking is muddled and it is a party with a poor record. Having said that, we, the people, can no longer afford to be picky. Better to be ruled by a Party that is seemingly clueless but can give us what we need rather than a bunch of self-serving liberals that are putting the interests of the Banks before ours.
We need to “keep the bastards honest!” still rings true today. In the case of the banks, “we need to make the banks honest!” We can’t do that unless the Government we elected has the intestinal fortitude to pursue the wrongdoers and bring them to justice. A Royal Commission will do just that!
This Government clearly lacks the will required to pursue these banks. Therefore, we need to express our displeasure by voting them out of office unless they do what we want NOW! Nothing will change and countless others will suffer as a consequence unless action is taken to investigate the banking sector and fix the problems that are universal within it.
What we need most in this country is an independent investigation that will identify the holes in the system and recommend sweeping changes in the way banking is conducted in the future. At the moment we have loose systems and layers of bureaucracy that serve no one but the banks. Self-regulation is an anathema to good banking practices.
Whilst this situation remains, we will always be at the mercy of unscrupulous banks. Let’s get it right once and for all!
Are you listening, Malcolm Turnbull? It’s your call! Either give us, the people, a Royal Commission into the banking sector or be gone for all the good you are doing! Your mates at the Banks will survive. They’ll make sure of that. You, however, will not if you continue to ignore our plea for justice.
On this one, you’ve got it all wrong! There’s still time for common sense to prevail. Show us that you have some by ordering a Royal Commission into the banking sector. Do something that is radical for a politician these days! Show some leadership!
Too expensive! Its cost the taxpayer $30 million for the Storm Financial ASIC investigation alone. It will cost $50 million or so for a royal commission. It’s not about how much it will cost now but rather about how much we can save in the future. More importantly, it’s about offering investors in Australia real protection against unscrupulous bankers.
If the Liberal Party can okay a Royal Commission where the trade unions are concerned, it can do the same where the banking sector is concerned. We, the people, know which of the two is more important.
I say to this Government, “The victims of these blood sucking banks are crying out for justice. Give it to them or step aside. The choice is yours!”
These are not idle words to be dismissed lightly. There are thousands upon thousands out there like me that have been burnt by the banks. I’m convinced that they would no longer support a Party that cannot see the wood for the trees
As for Bill Shorten, he may be many things and he may be politicking when he says what he has, but this time he’s “spot on!” It is Mr. Morrison and this Government that are being reckless in their behaviour rather than Bill Shorten.
Read my lips Mr. Turnbull and Mr. Morrison! The Banks are self-serving financial predators that have no interest in anything other than their bottom lines. They are scoundrels that are incapable of being honest! If you don’t believe me, the evidence is all there; layer upon layer of it! You have but to read it!
Look! Let’s be upfront about all this! Let’s say it as it truly is! The Labor Party protects the Unions come what may. After all, who can deny the union corruption that has taken place but an idiot? It’s all on record and yet Labor won’t admit it. On the other hand, the Liberal Party protects the Banks no matter what misconduct takes place because they are in bed with the banks. How else can you explain the Government’s current attitude to a Royal Commission into the Banking Sector? We, the common people, come last in the equation.
Again who can deny the banks’ wrongdoings except idiots? It appears that the Government at the moment harbours quite a few of these.
Do we really want to be governed by people that are self-serving? It’s time we took our country back! It’s time we brought these banking criminals to account. “It’s time we kept the bastards honest!”
FRANK AINSLIE - 11th April 2016
‘I ACCUSE’ - https://sites.google.com/site/stormingonbanks/the-government/attorney-general
‘THE BANK OF QUEENSLAND SCANDAL’ - https://sites.google.com/site/boqnorthward/
‘PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY’ - https://sites.google.com/site/stormingonbanks/home/our-company
‘THE THIRD SECRET’ - https://sites.google.com/site/thethirdsecret/
‘IS THE LAW AN ASS?’ http://bankvictims.com.au/general-banking-news/item/11769-is-the-law-an-ass-or-the-people-that-administer-it