THE Commonwealth Bank will fund some of its harshest critics at top class-action law firms to represent customers swept up in the financial-planning scandal in which victims lost millions.
The nation’s biggest bank, which this month booked an $8.7 billion profit for the year to June, has said it does not know how much compensation it will have to pay.
It has thrown the doors open to anyone who received advice during the affected period. Yesterday, it said it was talking to leading plaintiff law firms and would bankroll them to effectively fight for the rights of customers.
The CBA would not confirm who was on the list to act as “independent customer advocates” but said an agreement was expected “within weeks”.
It is believed the bank is talking to the high-profile law firms Slater & Gordon, Maurice Blackburn and Shine.
In June, the bank faced a scathing Senate report into the scandal, in which customers lost millions of dollars due to alleged questionable practices by some advisers between September 2003 and 2012.
In a bid to give the process further teeth, CBA boss Ian Narev said customers who believed they had been affected would soon have their possible compensation assessed for no cost by an independent plaintiff lawyer.
“The goal is ... to do right by customers who have received poor advice,” he said.
The bank also moved to beef up its “independent” review panel, which is set up to assess victims’ cases.
Former justice of the Queensland Court of Appeal Geoffrey Davies was appointed deputy chairman of the panel. Retired justice of the Federal Court and the Victorian Court of Appeal Julie Dodds-Streeton, QC, will be a panellist.
They join the chairman, retired justice of the High Court of Australia Ian Callinan.
Consumer advocate and executive director of financial counselling Australia Fiona Guthrie was appointed as a consultant expert adviser.
It follows the nation’s biggest wealth manager, AMP, said it would give financial advisers a crash course in ethics.
Meanwhile, final submissions are set to close to the Federal Government’s Financial System Inquiry headed by former CBA boss David Murray.
Everyone from the big four banks to smaller lenders to the superannuation industry and consumer groups are likely to lodge submissions by tomorrow afternoon.
At his interim report in July, Mr Murray asked for further comments on hot topics including the high fees Australians pay on their superannuation and whether financial planners had adequate training. Also controversial will be submissions around whether “too big to fail” major banks should have to set aside more capital.Author: Jeff Whalley and Jennifer Sexton
Source: Herald Sun