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Australian banks rein in uninvited credit, commission charges after scandals

Sydney

AUSTRALIAN lenders including Commonwealth Bank of Australia pledged to rein in uninvited offers of credit and commission charges after an inquiry that unearthed a string of scandals in the financial sector.

The new code of practice, in force from July 1, is designed to increase customer protection and introduces new penalties for breaches, the Australian Banking Association said in a statement on Sunday. Australia's big four banks, as well as Macquarie Group Ltd and AMP Ltd, are among lenders that have signed up, the association said.

Banks will no longer offer unsolicited credit card limit increases or charge commissions on lenders' mortgage insurance. Banks are also ending sales commissions for retail staff.

Last year's inquiry into misconduct in the financial industry laid bare wide-ranging misconduct, including charging dead people for services and lying to regulators.

"Banks understand they need to change their behaviour and this new rule book represents an important step in earning back the trust of the Australian public," Australian Banking Association chief executive officer Anna Bligh said in the statement. BLOOMBERG