Banking Code breaches sanctions

The Banking Code Compliance Committee (BCCC) which monitors compliance with the Banking Code of Practice has announced sanctions against 2 subscribing banks: one for failure to provide adequate support to customers following the closure of a country branch and another for not stopping or refunding fees for deceased estates, as well as not responding to representatives of deceased estates within the required timeframe.

Closure of country branch

Westpac Bank was sanctioned for serious and systemic breaches of the Banking Code by naming it for failure to provide adequate support to customers following the closure of its branch in Tennant Creek, Northern Territory.

The BCCC found that Westpac needed to do much more to support customers to transition to other ways of banking, engage with the community to promptly address concerns, and provide adequate assistance to customers in remote areas to ensure they could still access essential banking services.

Additionally, Westpac’s response to concerns raised by the community groups was deemed insufficient, creating further challenges, particularly for vulnerable customers, such as the elderly or those for whom English is not a first language.

Deceased estates

The BCCC sanctioned ANZ for breaching its Code obligations by failing to stop or refund fees charged to deceased estates after customers’ deaths.

The BCCC also found ANZ further breached its Code obligations by not responding to instructions or requests for information from representatives of deceased estates within the required 14 days.

The BCC said that despite first identifying the issues in early 2022, ANZ took over a year to implement solutions and then nearly two years to start its customer remediation program, which is still ongoing and expected to be finalised by the end of July 2024.

The BCC has also released its investigation report of another unnamed bank which has received a warning for its breach of its deceased estate obligations.

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David Jacobson

Author: David Jacobson
Principal, Bright Corporate Law
About David Jacobson
The information contained in this article is not legal advice. It is not to be relied upon as a full statement of the law. You should seek professional advice for your specific needs and circumstances before acting or relying on any of the content.

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