NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn has been asked at length about why the bank took three years to decide how it would reimburse customers for illegally charging fees without providing services.
The Royal Bankers' Committee heard that NAB's top lawyer, Sharon Cook, who was in court on Monday, proposed on 13 April that a group of clients be forced to accept the compensation process.
Asked about this recent deal with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Thorburn told a lawyer attending Michael Hodge that the strategy was the decision of former NAB finance chief Andrew Hagger.
"Someone looking at your statement and hearing the evidence you gave today may think that you are … passing the responsibility on to Mr. Hagger, the senior executive who was fired and left the bank. making?" Mr. Hodge asked.
"No," said Thorburn.
The investigation heard that on September 7 Mrs. Cook sent an email to Mr. Thorburn explaining that she did not take responsibility for the issue of non-service fees "until after we received an angry letter from ASIC" on May 19 . for the committee.
However, earlier evidence has shown that Ms. Cook was invited to take up negotiations with ASIC from October 2017, when the regulator invaded the bank with a document entitled Sketch of suspected infringement by the NAB Group detailing systemic failures in the bank returning 15 years.
Hodge then asked Mr. Thorburn if he considered that there were other executives who were responsible for the issue which he agreed to nominate, Cook and director of risk David Gall. ASIC is now suing the bank on fees, without any kind of service.
Thorburn admitted that the reimbursement process would reach the bottom line, but rejected claims that his executives behaved unethically while trying to downplay the account. He said that in retrospect, the bank took the wrong approach, but it was understandable in the heat of the moment.
Asked by Mr. Hodge if he thought his executives' actions were unethical, Mr. Thorburn said, "Well, that depends on what you mean by unethical … I think it turned out to be too technical and too legal. that I think of ethics. I do not think this is unethical. "
Thorburn was describing a problem that would require the bank to review files of 85,000 clients – many of which were inaccessible, incomplete, or non-existent.
Commissioner Hayne contested Mr Thorburn's description of the problem, since the claim that the large and complex was more precise.
"The other fundamental issue with this was that there was a question of revenue, was not there?" Mr. Hodge asked.
"Yes," said Thorburn.
A summary of the bank's involvement with the regulator dated December 2016 showed that the bank was considering its position – including "revenue at risk and clearing payable" – while noting that rival bank CBA had agreed to pay customers based on service delivery.
The bank repayed or offered repayment of $ 40 million to clients, valued at $ 110 million. Thorburn admitted he may have to pay up to $ 600 million to clients of non-staffing financial advisors, but they operated under NAB license because their records were even less reliable than the banks.
NAB is working with Westpac and the Financial Services Council on a solution to the problem of licensed consultants and lack of records. Westpac has collected about $ 1 billion over 10 years through similar agreements.
When clients no longer had a designated consultant, fees for ongoing counseling would be redirected to the bank using the NAB headquarters identification code. Mr. Thorburn repeatedly rejected Mr. Hodge's characterization that maintaining fees was a devious act.
"Well, let me put this proposition in other words, the other words are that this money has accidentally fallen into NAB's pocket, is not that the proposition?" Commissioner Hayne asked.
"Well, I can not disagree with that," Thorburn said.