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Unconscionable conduct

A member of the big four is being sued by the corporate regulator over unconscionable conduct.

Last week, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced they have commenced formal proceedings in the Federal Count against Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) over allegations of wrongfully-charged fees.

ASIC said that, while a periodic payment may be defined as a debit instructed by the customer to be made to another person or business, it does not include payments between two accounts belonging to the same person.

“Between August 2003 and 23 February 2016 (the 2003-2016 Period), ASIC alleges that ANZ wrongly charged transaction fees and non-payment fees for periodical payments between accounts in the same name. Transaction fees were charged when a periodical payment was successful, and non-payment fees were charged when a periodical payment could not be made due to insufficient funds in the customer’s account,” ASIC said.

The regulator alleged the bank wrongfully charged fees on over one million occasions between the 2003 to 2016 period, despite being made aware of the risk in 2011.

Variation of transaction fees charged between 2003-2016 period:

Non-payment fee for periodical statements:

The regulator said ANZ failed to:

  • provide written notification of the existence of a possible issue in relation to the fees to ASIC until 14 February 2014;

  • commence notifying affected customers about the issue until at least 23 September 2015;

  • change its terms and conditions to permit the charging of the fees until 23 February 2016; and

  • commence making remediation payments in relation to the unlawfully charged fees until August 2016.

While the bank has since paid $26 million in remediation, they have not paid remediation to customers who were impacted by this prior to 2007.

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