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Australia begins probe into financial sector misconduct

Australia begins probe into financial sector misconductCanberra : Australia’s Royal Commission into misconduct of the financial sector began its first public hearing on Tuesday with a focus on residential mortgages, car finance, and credit cards.

Several major banks, including the National Australia Bank (NAB), the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and ANZ, as well as other financial entities, are among the institutions facing the investigation of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, reports Efe news.

Evidence will be presented to the Commission in the next two weeks that consumers have not always been treated fairly and honestly when they received the loans through bad practices such as the alleged manipulation of interest rates.

The assistant counsellor of the inquiry, Rowena Orr, said that residential mortgages represent about two-thirds of total loans granted by Australian banks.

Currently, there are more than $AUS 1.7 billion ($1.33 billion) in outstanding mortgages, according to Orr.

The Commission will seek to determine at hearings in Melbourne the reasons behind unfair lending, although it is feared that hundreds of alleged victims will not appear for fear of legal retaliation by banks and other and financial institutions.

Cases of improper lending have already been addressed by banks and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, resulting in many cases in fines against banks and refunds to clients.

The Australian government established the Royal Commission last November to inquire into financial sector misconducts after months of pressure from the opposition Labor Party and the Green Party.

The opposition parties were later backed by some officials from the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who at first opposed the initiative.

—IANS

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