Senator Mark Bishop – Economics Committee Inquiry into the performance of ASIC

From Senator Mark Bishop

From: “Liau, Marie (Sen M. Bishop)” <Marie.Liau@aph.gov.au>
Date: 13 May 2014 8:54:04 AM AEST
To: XXXXX
Subject: Economics Committee Inquiry into the performance of ASIC
Dear Mr XXXThank you for your email recently received in our office and it has now been forwarded to the Economics Committee for consideration.As you are no doubt aware, the committee are due to table their report into the performance of ASIC on 30th May, 2014.  A copy of the report and its recommendation will then be available at http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/ASIC

Kind regards

Marie

Marie Liau

Office of Senator Mark Bishop

Perth tel: (08) 9472 6177 | fax: (08) 9472 6200
Canberra tel: (02) 6277 3101 | fax: (02) 6277 3123
mobile: 0488 914 221 | email: marie.liau@aph.gov.au

—– Forwarded message from XXXX —–
Date: Tue, 6 May 2014 12:57:08 +0800
From: XXXXXX
Subject: Enquiry Posted by XXXX to the Senator Mark Bishop
Contact Form
To: info@senatormarkbishop.com.au

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is the information that was submitted:

First Name           : XXX
Last Name            : XXX
Email Address        : XXXX
Telephone Number     : XXXX
Message              : We must have a ROYAL COMMISSION immediately
into the fraudulent activities of the banks.
:
: We have been conned & deceived by the
COMMONWEALTH BANK AUSTRALIA (CBA) & their agents using FRAUDULENT Loan
Application documents, in both 2005 and 2007.
:
: Our Loan Application Documents have been the
target of ‘Document Tampering, forgery & fraud.’
: Income figures were grossly inflated & many
other details,including false vehicles & shares, were altered & added
AFTER we had signed a couple of pages of the LAF.
:
: This is a  systemic, criminally fraudulent
business practice used by the CBA (and many other banks & lenders),
: where they corruptly lend money using grossly
falsified Loan Application Documents  (that we had never seen),
: & conspiring with Mortgage Brokers (that we
have never met), & going through Finance Companies (that we didn’t
know about & have never dealt with), with the sole aim of the Bank
being able to take our family home.
: (Asset Lending).
:
: Then the bank tries to cover it all up,
refuses to supply copies of the Loan Application Documents,
: –  CBA employee Quote:  ” We can’t give you
copies as it would leave the bank open to prosecution.”
:
: After 3 years of trying, I have all the other
documentation, including the falsified Loan Application Documents.
: They were fraudulently falsified in our 2005
loan and even more seriously in our 2007 loan re-finance.
: Fortunately for us they were dumb enough to
send us the 1st set of grossly altered documents – by mistake!
:
: I have also discovered that the bank (or their
agent) even used FAKE Low doc declarations that they photoshopped/ cut
& pasted together to get around the normal loan policies!  I also have
copies of these.
:
: One of the most shocking things about this is
that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) -who are supposed to
protect the public from illegal or unethical banking practices – has
disturbingly decided that : even though the bank may have known that
the documentation was false – THE BANK WAS ENTITLED TO RELY ON THAT
FALSE DOCUMENTATION!
:
: The FOS are blatantly biased in favour of the
Banks. They have ignored key documentary evidence & overlooked much of
the fraudulent information.
:  My wife and I even discussed the possibility
of 2 of the FOS investigating officials being bribed, such was our
level of disbelief at the way they were constantly trying to justify
the Bank’s actions!
: At one stage, they stated that the bank would
have known that the income details had been falsified as we were
receiving Family Assistance so therefore could not have been earning
the income stated on the loan application, and were suggesting that
the Bank should enter into a settlement conference and were waiting
for the Bank to respond.
: The next letter we had from the ombudsman was
the final decision – in favour of the bank!
:
: Even more sinister the ombudsman also put in a
clause stating that : if we accept the decision that we were to agree
not to take any further action against the bank!  This is how they try
to protect the Banks, they are certainly not protecting the public
against this fraud.
:
: We also recently received a copy of a letter
from FOS to the CBA- which was deliberately with-held from us, stating
that FOS’ Legal Counsel agreed that the CBA WAS GUILTY of
MALADMINISTRATION!
:
: We were actually advised by one of the FOS
Investigating Case Managers who realised that important matters in the
investigation were being covered up in favour of the bank, to go to
the State & Federal Police to make an official complaint against them
for fraud, which is what we have done.
:
: The Australian Federal Police and the CRIMINAL
INVESTIGATIONS BRANCH are now investigating both the CBA and the
brokers for Criminal Fraud.
: The CIB Detectives have issued warrants on the
CBA trying to get the ORIGINAL documents, but the CBA have responded
by stating that the original documents would have been destroyed.
:
: We are now at the stage where we arranged
meetings with our local MP  Karen Andrews, & took copies of the
documents to show her.  She agreed that fraud was evident & agreed
that we should make a formal complaint with the police.
: We also have the full support of Mr. White, of
the National Federation of Independent Business.
:
: This widespread fraud must be stopped.
: It is a crime against the Commonwealth, it is
a crime against all the People of Australia.
:
: The bank executives must be held accountable
for instigating this fraud & allowing the corruption to continue.
: Fraud is a criminal offence, therefore they
must be prosecuted to the full extent of the Law.
:
: We have written over 50 letters to the CBA CEO
Ian Narev and all of the other Directors, and we have sent Formal
Claims, by registered post, to all the CBA Board of Directors
individually, but they have not responded to us except to try & drag
us into a long & expensive legal battle by saying: “We will only
respond to you through a Lawyer.”
: Interestingly, they also haven’t denied or
rebutted our allegations of fraud,- because they know that we have the
documentation, in black & white, that proves this fraud.
: yours sincerely,
: XXXXXX
: XXXXXX

Message End.

CBA Fraud – Letter to Treasurer & Minister for Trade – Australia

Mr Tim Nicholls,  Treasurer & Minister for Trade.   25th April 2014.

Dear Mr Tim Nicholls,

I am contacting you again regarding our meeting at the Gold Coast Community Cabinet Meeting, on 23rd March 2014.

We discussed the CBA committing Loan Fraud & that the Burleigh Criminal Investigations Branch were investigating the CBA & their agents for Loan Fraud.

This widespread fraud must be stopped. This Loan Fraud IS happening to thousands of Australian families around Australia. 

It is a crime against the Commonwealth, it is a crime against all the People of Australia.

July/ Aug. 2012.  We originally met with our local MP Karen Andrews & Mr Russell White, head of the National Federation of Independent Business.

We showed them copies of the Loan Application Documents that had clearly been falsified & ‘Tampered’ with.

They both agreed that fraud had occurred & that they would support us & recommended filing a formal complaint with the Police.

 

1st Sept. 2012.  Robina Police.  We made our Formal Complaint to the Robina Police station & we had our 1st meeting with the Police.

They agreed that it should be investigated by the Criminal Investigations Branch & referred us to Burleigh Heads Criminal Investigations Branch.

 

7th Nov. 2012.  Burleigh Heads Criminal Investigations Branch. We did our formal Witness Statement / Affadavit, & gave copies of the Loan Application Document ‘Tampering.’

 

From: Hardham.CameronA@police.qld.gov.au

Subject: CBA Loan fraud – Ref: QP 1200 855 659

 

The Detective investigating the case (contact details above) has served warrants on the CBA, requesting the ORIGINAL signed Loan Application Documents, but the official response from the CBA was that the ORIGINAL documents had been destroyed.

 

As part of our Witness Statement / Affadavit , we gave documentary evidence of our signatures being falsified/ photoshopped into the Loan documents.

Now the CBA have admitted that they have destroyed the ORIGINAL documents, I believe that their is no valid contract, as there is a principal of law that states:

FRAUD DESTROYS THE CONTRACT.  There can be no true contract when one party has deceived the other. Fraud makes the contract worthless. Thus the bank does not have any rights which they can claim from the contract.

 

The last time I spoke to the Detective investigating he told me that the next steps would be to formally investigate the banks agents ( the brokers).

 

7thNov. 2013         by e-mail

14th Jan. 2014      by e-mail

16th Jan. 2014      by e-mail

10th Feb. 2014      by e-mail

30th Feb. 2014      personal visit

11th March 2014   by e-mail

24th March 2014   personal visit

I have tried to contact the detective on the numerous times (detailed above) to get an update or progress report on the investigation – but with no response.

As you can see, It is now a year and a half since the investigation started.  We feel that this is just not good enough.

We ask that this must be investigated PROPERLY, and within a reasonable time frame.

 

 

You said you were going to contact the C.I.B. on our behalf & ‘check it’s status’ & find out what progress had been made.

 

As it is now 25th April 2014,  A) have you managed to do so?

B)  have you had a response?

C) what response have you had?

D) can we have a copy of any response that you may have had?

We would appreciate an early response from you,

thank you for your time,

regards

XXXXX

 

 

P.S.   Copies of this letter are going to MP’s, Senators, Police, & various Media outlets, plus to others that have been wronged by the Banks & are fighting for Justice.

 

PPS.   Below are just three copies of pages of our Loan Application Documents that have been fraudulently ‘Tampered’ with, along with the relevant sections of the

            QLD CRIMINAL CODE, referring to DOCUMENT ‘TAMPERING, FORGERY & FRAUD.’

Australian Police refuse to investigate CBA Loan Fraud

Well, it’s now official :  Police are now refusing to investigate (any further) my formal Complaint of FRAUD against the CBA. 

Even though I sent them the relevant sections of the 

            QLD CRIMINAL CODE, referring to DOCUMENT ‘TAMPERING, FORGERY & FRAUD.’

And I also gave them the NAMES of those involved at the CBA, (which the CBA had tried to cover up by blacking out their names on the documents),

as well as the NAMES of the banks agents involved, (the brokers).

They are now trying to say that it is a CIVIL offence rather than a CRIMINAL offence.

Now that the CBA have formally stated to the Police that they have DESTROYED the ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS - the bank cannot prove that our signatures are on the ORIGINAL documents.

We have documentary evidence that the bank or their agents forged / photoshopped our signatures in afterwards. 

If the Police do not stand up for Justice, if they do not hold these ‘white collar criminals’ accountable for their crimes, they are discrediting the entire framework of law and order. 

They are silent accomplices.

From: Detective

Subject: CBA Loan Fraud.

Date: May 2014

To:      (name deleted)

 WITHOUT ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS or someone stepping forward and saying I stole money from you, / I defrauded you, there is no evidence.

From:   Detective

Subject:  CBA Loan Fraud. 

Date:  May 2014

To:     (name deleted)

(name removed),

As per our phone conversation, there is insufficient evidence for this matter to proceed any further.  Without any of the original documentation combined without being able to identify a person performing a dishonest act there is no likelihood of a successful prosecution.

This matter will be filed pending any further information coming to hand.

Regards

(name deleted)  Detective

From:     Detective

Subject: CBA Loan Fraud. 

Date: May 2014

To:      Name deleted

(Name deleted,)

I appreciate your frustration.  However all matters investigated by police need to be prioritised, this is done due to resources available against the seriousness of individual matters.  I am not saying your complaint is not serious however a fraud will always be given a lower priority than offences such as murder, rape and other violent offences.  Since I have received your file I have investigated 2 x suspicious deaths (1 being the death of a 14 year old boy that a coronial brief involving in excess of 150 witness was compiled by myself to present to the coroner, this matter is still before the courts.  The investigation for this matter took me 9 months.  During this period I was essentially committed to this investigation full time due to the priority a death investigated is given.  The second death investigation which I am still currently in the middle of has resulted with a person charged with the offence of Murder (the most serious crime contained within the Criminal Code)).  I am unable to tell you how long this investigation is likely to take.

These investigations have been undertaken by myself along with numerous armed robbery investigations and serious rape investigations, all the type of offences that are given a higher priority than fraud.  I have 2 other frauds on my investigation list currently that are of a significantly higher value than the alleged fraud you have reported, both were reported to police at a similar time and some investigations have occurred when time has permitted.  You may ask why does someone else not be given these files?  Unfortunately every other investigator attached to the office has a similar or larger workload.

I have as stated to you been able to obtain a copy only of the CBA records, I have also been able to recently locate the ‘Broker’ to be living in the Cairns area, the information I have is he is retired (I have been unable to confirm this at this point).  I have left messages on his listed number but have yet to get a return call (I have been unable to confirm if this number is correct as it is generic answering service).  I have requested Cairns police to visit his listed address on 3 occasions, on all these occasions no person has been home.

I am aware of all the offence sections you have sent through to me.

The evidence that is available (or not available) due to the bank destroying the files makes it extremely difficult to prosecute any one in regards to your complaint.  In regards to the bank destroying originals I have been in contact with the other large banks who state this is common practice as they do not have the facilities etc to hold the extensive amount of documents coming in (you should not look at this act as some conspiracy to hide evidence).  The first thing you need to do in a criminal prosecution is prove who performed the act, we cannot charge ‘the CBA’.  Without the original documents we will not be able to show that things have been altered from the original document you signed.  I understand you do not want to hear this but it is the reality.  Criminal prosecutions are held to the highest degree ‘Beyond reasonable doubt’.  I appreciate you have received advice contrary but I believe your best avenue is civilly which has the lower burden of proof being balance of probabilities.  I have spoken to my direct supervisor in regards to this who is also of this view.  I have received further advice from the fraud squad who are of the view these matters are civil matters.

I have attended personally and spoken to the brokers (name deleted) about the allegations, he denies any wrong doing.

He does not have any of the original documents, stating they were destroyed a long time ago as he has no need for them as you are no longer a client.

My opinion is this matter is civil, however if I did not believe this was the case and criminal offences had occurred there is insufficient evidence to prosecute any one for the alleged offences.

Any questions feel free to ask.  I understand there is a lot of information in this email that you may not agree with (name deleted)  but this is the reality of this matter.

Regards

(name deleted) Detective, Queensland Police Service

From: (Name deleted)
Sent: April 2014
To:  (name deleted)
Subject: CBA Loan Fraud.

Dear Detective (name deleted)

We request an up-date & progress report on our Formal Complaint please.  CBA & their agents (the brokers) committing Loan Fraud.

This widespread fraud must be stopped. This Loan Fraud IS happening to thousands of Australian families around Australia.

It is a crime against the Commonwealth, it is a crime against all the People of Australia.

July/ Aug. 2012.  We originally met with our local MP (name deleted) & Mr (name deleted) head of the National Federation of Independent Business.

We showed them copies of the Loan Application Documents that had clearly been falsified & ‘Tampered’ with.

They both agreed that fraud had occurred & that they would support us & recommended filing a formal complaint with the Police.

1st Sept. 2012.  Police.  We made our Formal Complaint to the  Police station & we had our 1st meeting with the Police.

They agreed that it should be investigated by the Criminal Investigations Branch & referred us to the Criminal Investigations Branch.

7th Nov. 2012.  Criminal Investigations Branch. We did our formal Witness Statement / Affadavit, & gave copies of the Loan Application Document ‘Tampering.’

As part of our Witness Statement / Affadavit , we gave documentary evidence of our signatures being falsified/ photoshopped into the Loan documents.

Now the CBA have admitted that they have destroyed the ORIGINAL documents, I believe that their is no valid contract, as there is a principal of law that states:

FRAUD DESTROYS THE CONTRACT.

There can be no true contract when one party has deceived the other. Fraud makes the contract worthless.

Thus the bank does not have any rights which they can claim from the contract.

As you can see, It is now a year and a half since the investigation started.  We feel that this is just not good enough.

We ask that this must be investigated PROPERLY, and within a reasonable time frame.

I have tried to contact you numerous times to get an update or progress report on the investigation – but with no response.

The last time I spoke to you, you told me that the next steps would be to formally investigate the banks agents ( the brokers).

As it is now 25th April 2014,

A) have you managed to do so?

B)  have you had a response?

C) what response have you had?

D) can we have a copy of any response that you may have had?

 We would appreciate an early response from you,

thank you for your time,

regards

(name deleted)

PS.   Below are just three copies of pages of our Loan Application Documents that have been fraudulently ‘Tampered’ with, along with the relevant sections of the 

            QLD CRIMINAL CODE, referring to DOCUMENT ‘TAMPERING, FORGERY & FRAUD.’

Queensland

CRIMINAL CODE

Act No. 37 of 1995

PART 5—TAMPERING, FORGERY, &  FRAUD

†Division 1—Concepts of gaining benefit and causing detriment

˙Meaning of “benefit”

176. “Benefit” includes—

(a) property, advantage and service; and

(b) the causing of a detriment; and

(c) anything that is for a person’s good; and

(d) direct or indirect benefit, relief or abstention from direct or

indirect benefit, and promise of direct or indirect benefit.

˙Meaning of “to gain a benefit”

177. A person does an act to gain a benefit for anyone if the person does

the act for the purpose of anyone gaining the benefit for anyone.

˙Meaning of “detriment”

178. “Detriment” includes—

(a) personal injury, injury to reputation, property damage and financial loss; and

(b) forcing anyone to do an act against the person’s will; and

(c) loss, damage or injury of any kind; and

(d) direct or indirect detriment and threat of direct or indirect detriment.

˙Meaning of “to cause a detriment”

179. A person does an act to cause a detriment to anyone if the person

does the act for the purpose of anyone causing the detriment to anyone else.

Division 2—Offences

Tampering with documents

180.(1) A person must not tamper with a document to dishonestly gain a

benefit for anyone or dishonestly cause a detriment to anyone.

Maximum penalty—

(a) 14 years imprisonment, if the document is a valuable security,

testamentary instrument or document kept by a lawful authority;

or

(b) 7 years imprisonment, in any other case.

Crime—

(a) dishonestly tampering with a legal document;

(b) dishonestly tampering with a document.

(2) In this section—

“tamper” with a document means damage, hide or falsify the document.

˙When does a person engage in “forgery”

181. A person engages in forgery if the person

(a) makes, amends or deals with a document (the “forged

document) so that all the document, or a material part of it,

purports—

(i) to be what in fact it is not; or

(ii) to be made by a person who did not make it; or

(iii) to be made by or for a person who does not exist; or

(iv) to be made by authority of a person who did not give the authority; or

(v) to have an effect it does not; or

(b) uses a forged document.

Forgery

182. A person must not dishonestly engage in forgery to gain a benefit for anyone or cause a detriment to anyone.

Maximum penalty—

(a) 14 years imprisonment, if—

(i) the person contravenes a fiduciary duty when committing the offence; or

(ii) the benefit gained, or the detriment caused, by the person in committing the offence has a value of at least 167 penalty

units; or

(b) 7 years imprisonment, in any other case.

Crime—

(a) engaging in forgery—

(i) contravening a fiduciary duty;

(ii) affecting something of high value;

(b) engaging in forgery.

˙Dealing with things used for forgery

183.(1) A person must not—

(a) prepare a thing with the intent that anyone may use it to engage in forgery; or

(b) possess a thing with the intent that anyone may use it to engage in forgery; or

(c) use a thing with intent to engage in forgery; or

(d) possess a thing the person used to engage in forgery; or

(e) dispose of a thing the person used to engage in forgery.

Maximum penalty—3 years imprisonment.

Crime—dealing with thing used or for use in forgery.

(2) In this section—

“prepare” means prepare, begin to make or make 

˙Fraud

184. A person must not dishonestly by any deception—

(a) obtain property from anyone; or

(b) induce anyone to give property to anyone else; or

(c) induce anyone to do an act the other person may lawfully abstain from doing; or

(d) induce anyone to abstain from doing an act the other person may lawfully do; or

(e) gain a benefit for anyone; or

(f) cause a detriment to anyone.

Example—

CBA (& their agents the Brokers) induced Mr & Mrs (names deleted) to sign a document by  deception that made Mr & Mrs (names deleted) believe it was another type of document.  

 CBA (& their agents the Brokers)  induced  Mr & Mrs (names deleted) to sign the document dishonestly by deception.

CBA (& their agents the Brokers)  commits fraud under paragraph (c).

Maximum penalty—

(a) 14 years imprisonment, if the property, benefit or detriment has a

value of at least 167 penalty units; or

(b) 7 years imprisonment, in any other case.

Crime—

(a) fraud affecting anything of high value;

(b) fraud.

 CRIMINAL CODE 1899 – SECT 430

430 Fraudulent falsification of records

Any person who with intent to defraud

(a) makes a false entry in any record; or

(b) omits to make an entry in any record; or

(c) gives any certificate or information that is false in a material particular; or

(d) in any way falsifies, destroys, alters or damages any record; or

(e) produces or makes use of any record the person knows is false in a material particular;

commits a crime.

Maximum penalty  10 years imprisonment.

CRIMINAL CODE 1899 – SECT 488

488 Forgery and uttering

(1) A person who, with intent to defraud

(a) forges a document; or

(b) utters a forged document;

commits a crime.

Forgery is the process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents with the intent to deceive.

The similar crime of fraud is the crime of deceiving another, including through the use of objects obtained through forgery

Forgery is a serious offense, punishable as a felony in all fifty states and by the federal government. Forgery involves the making, altering, use, or possession of a false writing in order to commit a fraud.

Because our society relies heavily on the ability to produce and exchange legitimate documents, forgery can have serious and far-reaching negative consequences on businesses, individuals, and political entities. For these reasons, forgery is a serious criminal offense that is punishable as a felony in all fifty states and by the federal government.

Traditionally, the crime of forgery consisted only of making or altering a false writing. Possessing, using, or offering a false writing with the intent to defraud was a separate offense, known as “uttering a forged instrument.” For example, if someone used  false documentation in order to obtain a Line Of Credit.

What is Forgery?

To punish forgery as a criminal offense, there are several elements, or factors, that must be proved by the prosecution in order to convict a person of the offense. These include the following.

Making, altering, using, or possessing

The first element of forgery is that a person must make, alter, use, or possess a false writing. Many people think of only making false writings, such as forging letters or certificates, when they think of forgery, but altering an existing writing may also be forgery if the alteration is “material,” or affects a legal right.

For example, forging another person’s signature on a document is a material alteration because it misrepresents the identity of the person who signed the document, which has serious legal consequences.

Deleting, adding, or changing significant portions of documents may also be “material” alterations, if these changes affect the legal rights or obligations represented in the documents. Additionally, as discussed above, using or possessing false writings also constitutes forgery.

A false writing

Not all writings meet the definition of forgery. To serve as the basis for forgery charges, the writing in question must both have legal significance and be false, as discussed below.

The writing must have apparent legal significance. In order to be punishable as forgery, the writing in question must have apparent legal significance. This includes government-issued documents such as drivers’ licenses and passports; transactional documents such as deeds, conveyances, and receipts; financial instruments such as currencies, checks, or stock certificates; and other documents such as wills, patents, medical prescriptions, and works of art.

To have legal significance, a document need not necessarily be a legal or government-issued document–it must simply affect legal rights and obligations. For this reason, documents such as letters of recommendation or notes from physicians may also be the subjects of forgery. In contrast, signing another person’s name to a letter to a friend would probably not constitute forgery, because in most cases it would not have legal significance.

The writing must be false. To be considered false, the writing itself must be fabricated or materially altered so that it purports to be or represent something that it is actually not. Generally, simply inserting false statements into a writing is not enough to meet this requirement, if those misrepresentations do not change the fundamental meaning of the writing itself. For example, if you insert a false statement into a letter you wrote, you have not committed forgery. However, it is forgery if you write a letter of legal significance, but present it as a letter written by someone else.

With the intent to defraud

In order to be guilty of forgery, the defendant must have intended to defraud someone or some entity, such as a government agency (though the fraud need not have been completed). This element prevents people who possess or sign fraudulent documents, without knowing that the documents are false, from being subject to criminal liability.

What is forgery?

Forgery is defined as the creation, altering, forging, or imitating of any document with the intent to defraud another person.  Making a signature without authorization or causing another person to fraudulently sign a document are also covered under forgery laws. 

Forgery laws may vary from state to state, but they all generally require the intent to defraud or deceive.

What is required to prove forgery?

All of the following elements must be satisfied when proving a person guilty of forgery:

  • False creation of document: The defendant must have manufactured, typed, printed, engraved, or handwritten the false document
  • Materially altering the document:  The person must have changed an existing, genuine document in some way

  (for example, falsely filling in blanks on a form)

  • Capability of defrauding: The document or writing must look sufficiently genuine to be capable of defrauding the average person
  • Legal significance: The document must claim to have some sort of legal significance to affect the other person’s rights.

Intent to deceive or defraud: The defendant must use the document with the intent to deceive the other person.

Commonwealth Bank Australia (CBA) Financial Planning

BANKING BAD

By Adele Ferguson and Deb Masters

VIDEO: Extended interview with Jeff Morris, CBA Whistleblower(Four Corners)

Monday 5 May 2014

This is a story about ordinary Australians taking on Australia’s biggest bank. It begins with a dying man who believed the Commonwealth Bank wronged him and who was forced into a David and Goliath legal battle in the last six months of his life.

It’s going to be very hard for me to trust anyone at any bank at any given time because they were just ruthless… They knew he was an easy target and they just went for it,” his daughter told Four Corners.

This week in a joint Four Corners/Fairfax investigation, reporter Adele Ferguson examines a sales-driven culture inside the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division that has been described as profit at all cost – a culture that has been built on commissions.

The program also looks at the wilful practices of another financial planner, whose annual salary was almost half a million dollars. The CBA protected him until a whistleblower and several of his clients fought back.

The planner’s customers, mostly retirees, believed the Commonwealth Bank when it said it was ‘the people’s bank’. But when they saw their life savings disappearing as a result of bad advice, they knew they had to act. Adele Ferguson tracks down the planner.

This story reveals how those customers who believed they were wronged took on both the bank and the corporate regulator, ASIC, and won. There are others who didn’t fight and may have lost their life savings.

The CBA says it has since cleaned up its act and there is no place for so-called ‘rogue’ financial planners.

The program comes at a time when Australia’s biggest banks are trying to expand a system that rewards bank tellers and financial planners for selling their products to customers.

The Federal Government also wants to make changes to the financial advice legislation that would reintroduce some of the commissions and kickbacks that had been banned under the previous government. If the reforms go ahead it will potentially mean financial planners are less, not more, accountable to their clients.

This program is a sobering lesson for all.

If you have money to invest or you are setting yourself up for retirement this is a program you cannot afford to miss.

BANKING BAD, a joint Four Corners/Fairfax investigation reported by Adele Ferguson and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 5th May at 8.30pm on ABC1. It is replayed on Tuesday 6th May at 11.00am and 11.35pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.

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First posted May 5, 2014 15:47:00