The banking royal commission’s final report included 76 proposals to improve the financial services sector, but left action on criminal charges up to a regulator also under fire for being too soft.
Following the release of commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s findings on Monday, the Australian Council of Trade Unions said it was “shocked” the report made “no direct referral of criminal or civil prosecutions” to either the Australian Federal Police or the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“Instead the report suggests suspected breaches should be referred to APRA or ASIC, the very bodies that have already failed the victims of banks misconduct,” the ACTU said in a statement.
“The final report of the banking royal commission has failed victims of Australia’s banks.”
APRA is the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, the body tasked with supervising financial services industries. ASIC is the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which regulates the financial, markets, and consumer credit sectors.
Industry Super Australia welcomed the report’s recommendations, but deputy chief executive Matt Linden acknowledged that “the community probably rightly expected there’d be a stronger response” to the illegal activity uncovered by the commission.
“Given the scale and nature of the misconduct, which is exposed very clearly in this final report, I think that [recommending criminal prosecution] would have been a reasonable thing to do,” he said.
Former Shadow Minister for financial services Bernie Ripoll, who chaired 2009’s Parliamentary Joint Committee Inquiry into financial products and services, told The New Daily the royal commission was worthwhile.
“I absolutely welcome the report. It’s extensive and I think it hits the mark, and it looks like a report completely without fear,” he said.
“We’ll get a positive outcome from this, where consumers can feel confident and we can restore some trust in our superannuation system, in our insurance system, in the way that people borrow money and the way they deal with their bank.”
Mr Ripoll said he would trust Mr Hayne’s judgement on criminal prosecutions as the commissioner had access to “much more information”, but noted that the report “clearly named individuals” who could be subject to prosecution.
“We have visibility over those names through the report. We know who in [Commissioner] Hayne’s view didn’t do their job properly,” he said.
Banks welcome chance to ‘reset’
Australian Banking Association chief executive Anna Bligh welcomed the report’s recommendations, describing them as “an opportunity for banks to reset their relationship with customers”.
“This report is a roadmap for the industry to drive the change needed to earn back the trust of the Australian people,” she said.
“The industry understands that many people are cynical about whether banks will really change, but don’t judge us by our words, judge us by our actions.”
All four of Australia’s major banks saw their share price climb by roughly 1 per cent before the release of the report after markets closed at 4pm.