Australia court orders CBA to pay $3.5 mln for overcharging customers

June 5 (Reuters) - A federal court has ordered Commonwealth Bank of Australia to pay a A$5 million ($3.49 million) penalty for overcharging customers and underpaying interest on one of its financial products, the country’s corporate regulator said.

The penalty is related to a lawsuit filed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in March against the country’s top lender after a major inquiry into the financial sector referred the case to the regulator.

CBA had overcharged package fees related to its discontinued product titled AgriAdvantage Plus between 2005 and 2015 and did not provide some benefits to customers, ASIC said on Friday.

The Australian bank said in March that it will not contest the lawsuit and also admitted to the breaches.

“We apologise to those customers who at the time didn’t receive their AgriAdvantage Plus package benefits or were overcharged fees,” a CBA spokesperson said in an email to Reuters on Friday.

“We have sent refunds of approximately $8 million (including interest) and there were 8,659 customers impacted. Failures of this sort are unacceptable,” the reply added, reiterating what the company had said earlier this year.

The inquiry, referred to as the Royal Commission here, uncovered widespread misconduct in the financial services industry, including charging customers for service not rendered and the deception of regulators.

$1 = 1.4341 Australian dollars Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips