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Banks inquiry's first focus on lending

12 February 2018

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC said public submissions form an important part of the inquiry's work, but it does not have the time to examine every case of misconduct in the financial services sector.

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC sought further information from some financial institutions, after initially seeking submissions by the end of January about misconduct over the past decade.

But some of the institutions said they can not meet Tuesday's deadline for information about misconduct over the last five years because of the amount of material involved.

General Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor-General of Australia, established the Commission by a Letters Patent on 14 December a year ago, and appointed Commissioner Hayne as the Royal Commissioner.

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"The highest standards of conduct are critical to the good governance and corporate culture of providers", he said.

Mr Hayne said should any institution seek to take legal action against a member of the public or a whistleblower, the commission would be very likely to exercise its compulsory powers to secure the information in question. "Suing the person would nearly certainly fall within that prohibition".

The major banks said they would not enforce confidentiality obligations if customers made submissions to the inquiry.

Inappropriate lending practices across home loans, auto loans and credit cards will be the focus of the banking royal commission's first public hearing.

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Lending practices in Australia will be put under immediate scrutiny, Rowena Orr, a barrister who is assisting the commissioner, told the opening day of the inquiry.

The royal commission said it had received 48 responses so far from organisations including banks, superannuation funds, consumer groups and regulators.

The royal commission has so far received 385 public submissions with almost one third of the submissions relating to the way banks dealt with personal finance, 17 per cent relating to superannuation and 13 per cent relating to small business dealings by banks.

The inquiry held its first hearing in Melbourne on Monday.

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The commission said it has received about 385 submissions to date and that the number of submissions has been growing each week since the commission allowed the public to submit evidence online.

Banks inquiry's first focus on lending