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ANZ says watchdog plans to take it to court for wrongful fee charges

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Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) on Thursday said Australia's corporate regulator plans to begin civil proceedings against the lender for wrongful charging of fees.

[BENGALURU] Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) on Thursday said Australia's corporate regulator plans to begin civil proceedings against the lender for wrongful charging of fees.

ANZ, one of Australia's Big Four banks, said it has been informed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) that the proceedings relate to fees charged for periodical payments in some cases before February 2016.

The fees were the subject of a class action suit settled late last year for A$1.5 million (S$1.4 million) and pending court approval, ANZ said. ASIC is seeking penalties for 1.3 million occasions where the fees were applied, the bank said.

The action comes at a time of increased scrutiny of banks following the Royal Commission, a powerful inquiry last year that exposed compliance and governance failures across the financial sector.

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The corporate watchdog earlier this month said it could take "significant enforcement action" against some of the country's largest banks, including ANZ, over sales earlier this decade of insurance products that it said harmed customers.

"ANZ categorically denies any deliberate wrongdoing and intends to vigorously defend any such allegation," the bank said in a statement on Thursday, adding it would not provide further comment as the matter will be before the courts.

An ASIC spokesman confirmed the regulator's intent to issue proceedings in the Federal Court against ANZ and said it would comment further once the filing has occurred.

REUTERS