The corporate regulator will file civil penalty proceedings against ANZ seeking to fine the bank for wrongfully charging customers fees on 1.3 million occasions.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s case will relate to ANZ’s charging its customers “periodical payment” fees prior to February 2016.
These fees were the subject of a class action, launched by law firm Maurice Blackburn, which settled last December for $1.5 million.
The settlement is awaiting court approval, and includes $750,000 for class action members.
It also provides up to $750,000 for customers who were charged the fees but had not registered for the class action.
Last Friday (July 19) was the deadline for these customers to register their claim.
What are ‘periodical payments’?
“Periodical payments”, according to ANZ’s terms and conditions, were defined as transactions made to “another person or business”.
But the bank charged these fees, generally between $25 and $35, even when customers were transferring money between their own accounts – for example, between a person’s transactions and home loan account.
This includes situations where a customer was hit with non-payment fees, as customers were unable to make scheduled payments due to insufficient funds in their account.
Several years ago, ANZ dobbed itself in to ASIC after discovering that it was charging fees on transactions that fell outside its own definition.
The bank has since changed its terms and conditions to clarify when fees related to periodical payments will be charged.
“ANZ categorically denies any deliberate wrongdoing and intends to vigorously defend any such allegation,” it said in a statement.
“Separately, ANZ has already provided for approximately $50 million in customer remediation payments for this matter of which more than $28 million has already been paid to customers impacted since 2008.”
ASIC is expected to file its Federal Court lawsuit against the bank on Monday, July 29.