Australia Court Fines ANZ $7.14 Million for Unconscionable Conduct

Australia’s federal court has handed down a $10 million fine to ANZ for breaching its licensing obligations regarding fees charged to retail and business banking customers.

October 2, 2020 | AtoZ Markets – Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) said on Friday it was fined AUD10 million ($7.14 million) by a federal court for engaging in ‘unconscionable conduct’ and also breaching its obligation with its customers.

Couur fined ANZ for intentionally charging customers inappropriate fees

According to a press release by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), ANZ, the country’s 4th largest bank charged periodical payments fees between August 2003 and September 2015. However, under the relevant terms and conditions, the bank was not entitled to charge any fees for transactions between accounts held under the same customer name.

Despite receiving warnings from its external lawyers about such charges in July 2011, ANZ admitted that it knowingly continued to charge affected customers until September 2015.

According to ASIC, these unlawful fees charged affected about 69,000 ANZ customers and the bank pocketed around AUD3.1 million ($2.21 million).

ANZ makes $1.79 million remediation payments to some affected customers

At the time of writing, ANZ has already refunded some of the affected customers with around AUD25 million (~$1.79 million) as remediation payments, but could not pay the rest, which will go towards ASIC as unclaimed money or charity.

Read also: ASIC Bans Adelaide Financial Adviser for Five Years

Commenting on the outcome, ASIC Deputy Chair, Daniel Crennan QC said:

“The outcome and penalty imposed by the Court is a strong deterrent message and reflects ASIC’s position that ANZ lacked contractual entitlement to charge these particular fees.”

“ASIC acknowledges the cooperative approach taken by ANZ to this litigation, which allowed the matter to be efficiently resolved by the Court. It is in the public interest that parties to regulatory litigation cooperate where possible,” Daniel added.

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