Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief executive Ian Narev, has fronted the second public hearing into the conduct of Australia’s major banks in Canberra, stonewalling committee chair and Liberal MP David Coleman over the issue of executive accountability.
Narev, under pressure from Coleman’s opening questions around offering up bank executives involved in any breach reporting to ASIC, refused to ‘carte blanche’ hang out CBA executives in line with the committee’s previously recommended regime for executive accountability.
In its first report on the banking sector in parliament, the committee recommended that a new regime be put in place for executive accountability, with license breaches reported publicly. It’s a recommendation supported by the Australia New Zealand Bank Banking Group.
The CBA chief implied he had concerns about the proposed breach reporting standards coupled with executive naming – which he felt both muddied the regulatory waters and distracted from understanding the breach itself.
“I worry this is going to turn the aspect of breach reporting - which is meant to focus on identifying and rapidly remedying issues – onto broader questions onto who is accountable and who is not - which we don’t necessarily believe should exist in tandem with the timetable and the substance of the breach reporting,” Narev said.
“The number one priority we must have with our regulator is to have breach reporting done expediently and fully,” he added.
Coleman, repeated the suggestion he made on Friday to National Australia Bank CEO Andrew Thorburn, that the committee would have a degree of flexibility in the number of days (five) allotted to banks to publicly name and shame executives responsible for any breaches reported to the regulator.
Despite the invitation, Narev refused to allow for considerations outside of the already “high feelings of accountability” CBA executives already have.
“I believe chairman, and I respect we may have different views on this, that our executives are accountable, they feel accountable and I don’t believe the naming would add to any feeling of accountability beyond the very strong sense of accountability all of them have in the bank today.”
Narev was consistently pressed on why he broadly disagreed that bank executives should be publicly named as an effective layer of driving individual responsibility.
“We will have the greatest respect for whatever the committee decides but you’re asking us for our view and our view is it (executive naming) wouldn’t alter any high feelings of accountability that we have across the management team today.
“We do support accountability. What I would say is that our executives are entitled to the same due process that everybody has.”