Comyn and Livingstone pressed on compliance failings

Commonwealth bank CEO Matt Comyn was back in the crossfire on Tuesday to explain the poor dealings with ASIC, the anti-money laundering scandal, medical definitions and the noted advice from former CBA boss, Ian Narev to “temper your sense of justice” during 2015 insurance product discussions.

Comyn did not argue when senior counsel assisting Rowena Orr QC asked if he agreed the failings of the executive committee invariably contributed to the CBA’s missteps including the anti-money laundering matters despite the warning signs.

There were no audits at that point in time into the failings of the senior leadership team to contend with the anti-money laundering problems at a management level were openly discussed.

When pressed further by Orr, Comyn stated that “Unfortunately, there are many failures in the way we dealt with that particular matter”

During 2015 Comyn had noted former Commonwealth bank CEO, Ian Narev told him “temper your sense of justice” when Comyn allegedly tried to cease the sale of unnecessary insurance products.

Comyn continued to say he did not speak to the CBA Board because he believed they shared Narev’s opinions.  

“Completely unacceptable” was the simple response given by Comyn regarding the sequence of events detailing the lack of action from the Commonwealth bank after becoming aware of the mis-selling of products.

Despite being aware of mis-selling issues in 2015, Comyn failed to notify ASIC until contacted by the regulation body regarding customer complaints in 2017.

Comyn admitted there had also been in other times in recent years where he felt the Commonwealth Bank had prioritised financial objectives over customer outcomes, including fees for no service and the failure to update the medical definition of a heat attack.  

The failure to change the definition of a heart attack left many Commonwealth bank heart attack suffers without insurance coverage.

Orr wrapped up Comyn’s questioning today but not before asking what Comyn had planned for the future of the Commonwealth Bank.

A culture change ranging from a new code of conduct, refreshed expectations and a new customer remediation policy and was the solution Comyn provided on how to insure this would not happen again.

Whether Comyn and the Commonwealth bank will deliver on their word will remain to be seen as the royal commission continues.

Livingstone challenged CBA board over Austrac

Commonwealth Bank chair Catherine Livingstone questioned the banks’ board over the statutory notices it received from Austrac over concerns around potential money laundering breaches.

Livingstone who had experience dealing with Austrac was “concerned about the notices” issued. “It didn’t feel quite right to me” she told the Commission.

However, she received assurances by management that Austrac were comfortable with the progress the bank was taking in order to address any potential breaches.

Questioned over a litany of breaches highlighted in the previous round of hearings including fee-for-no-service, issues in its mortgage business and questionable definitions for heart attacks in its insurance products.

Livingstone admitted that there was “insufficient urgency” by the board to follow up on these issues with the number of inquiries on the bank highlighting that there was too much faith placed by the board on the bank’s management.

She said that in fairness, directors needed to wait six months to assess the level of governance in a business.

“Otherwise, you do not see the full cycle of meetings and activities of the board and you don’t’ have a detailed knowledge of all the issues,” she said.

 

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