October 25, 2018 / 8:14 AM / 23 days ago

Australian corporate regulator to embed officials at CBA next week

SYDNEY, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Commonwealth Bank of Australia , the country’s top lender, will become the first financial firm in the country to embed corporate watchdogs in its offices following revelations at a national inquiry of widespread misconduct in the sector.

Australia granted the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) invasive powers in August to place supervisors inside the country’s biggest financial firms after the public inquiry rattled public confidence in the institutions and the regulator.

A CBA spokesman said ASIC staff would start work next week, which the Sydney Morning Herald said would make the bank the first to host the supervisors.

ASIC declined to comment.

The regulator has said it will embed representatives in the offices of the country’s largest banks, also including Westpac , Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and National Australia Bank, and wealth manager AMP Ltd .

Their presence will influence how the institutions behave and made decisions, the regulator’s chairman, James Shipton, said on Aug 7.

The year-long inquiry, or Royal Commission, has heard testimony of widespread misconduct by AMP and the lenders, including charging fees to the accounts of dead customers and routinely charging for financial advice that was not provided.

The Royal Commission has also criticised ASIC for failing to dutifully prosecute the bad behavior of the financial firms.

“We welcome this move by ASIC as a positive and constructive step forward in the regulatory oversight of the banking industry,” a CBA spokesman said.

“We look forward to working closely with ASIC to help produce the best outcomes for all of our stakeholders.”

The move to have regulators inside banks brings Australia into line with practices in Britain, Hong Kong and the United States. (Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Neil Fullick)

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