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Australia's bank CEOs prepare to testify in bank inquiry
[SYDNEY] Commonwealth Bank of Australia's Matt Comyn is the first of the big-four bank CEOs to testify on Monday as an inquiry into misconduct in the nation's financial industry enters its final phase.
The inquiry, known as a Royal Commission, has previously heard Commonwealth Bank extracted fees from the accounts of people who had died. That was among a string of industry scandals including lying to regulators, falsifying documents and taking bribes that has led to calls for tougher regulation. The inquiry's interim report concluded banks pursued "short-term profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty."
Setting the scene for this week's hearings, lead commission barrister Rowena Orr is clear she's not interested in hearing "further apologies, or expressions of regret" from the executives.
Instead, the commission is focused on trying to understand why misconduct happened, in particular whether there are core problems with risk management, recruitment, pay or governance practices. And second, what can be done to prevent problems reoccurring. In other words: there will be no patience with grandstanding or warm words.
The Sydney-based lender's chairman Catherine Livingstone is expected to appear later to answer questions on the bank's governance practices, which were criticised in a separate inquiry into a massive breach of anti-money laundering laws.
The inquiry will also this week hear from the CEOs of Westpac Banking Corp, Macquarie Group and the head of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. The sessions in Sydney will run until Friday, before moving to Melbourne next week for the final public hearings.