Any banks or their employees who have done wrong should face the consequences but the sector’s representative won’t rule out shareholder funds being used to mount defences.
Ahead of the banking royal commission’s final report being released on Monday, Australian Banking Association head Anna Bligh says the system understands it is not above the law but every individual is entitled to a defence.
Ms Bligh is anticipating “a very thorough, comprehensive, thoughtful and workable report” from Commissioner Kenneth Hayne, as high profile bankers brace for possible civil or criminal referrals to Commonwealth prosecutors.
“I would assume that every institution, whether that’s a bank or an insurance company or anyone else, will be looking to make sure that people get the defence that they’re entitled to. That’s the nature of our criminal justice system in this country,” she told ABC Radio’s AM when asked if bankers would fund their own legal defences.
When asked whether banks hit with allegations should simply “cop it and work hard to make amends”, Ms Bligh said everyone has the right to mount a defence.
She says Australians want various banking reforms to be introduced so that customers are prioritised above profits and hopes all banks will adopt Mr Hayne’s recommendations.
Tighter credit standards pushing house prices lower, a fallout from the royal commission, highlights the need for banks to look more carefully comply with responsible lending requirements.
“It’s a very fine balancing act, providing capital into the economy so that people can buy houses, borrow for their businesses.
“And we’re certainly very hopeful that the commission report removes some of the current uncertainty, as well as gets that balancing act right,” Ms Bligh said.
It is unclear whether the report, which will not be released until the stock market closes on Monday, will spark a knee-jerk reaction or backlash when the market reopens on Tuesday morning.
“You know, anybody who’s trying predict what the market might do on Tuesday, I think, is very brave,” Ms Bligh said.