Commonwealth Bank fined $25 million
THE Commonwealth Bank has agreed to pay $25 million to settle legal action brought against it by ASIC over bank bill swap rates.
CBA has reached an in-principle settlement with ASIC under which it will acknowledge attempting "to engage in unconscionable conduct" and that it could not adequately monitor trading and communications of staff in the interest rate-rigging case.
The Federal Court must approve the in-principle settlement that will also mean CBA pays a $5 million penalty, $15 million to a financial consumer protection fund, and $5 million of ASIC's costs.
It comes in the wake of damning revelations unearthed by the banking royal commission.
CBA and the other big banks have copped a battering at the royal commission, and CBA is in damage control amid recent revelations it lost the financial statements of 20 million account-holders in a serious data breach.
Meanwhile, news bank CEO Matt Comyn admitted he'd "made mistakes" after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released a "damning" report about the Commonwealth Bank, which followed an embarrassing money laundering scandal, and uncovered a culture of complacency and a board that failed to provide adequate oversight.
The inquiry found the bank broke anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws more than 50,000 times.
In the wake of that report, that slammed the bank as complacent and blinded to threats in its business, Treasurer Scott Morrison said he expected more senior heads to roll at the bank.
Today's enforceable undertaking is the second in two weeks to which CBA has agreed following the APRA report.
CBA's $25 million settlement with ASIC is half that paid by rivals National Australia Bank and ANZ in similar settlements related to alleged manipulation of the key rate.
Those settlements covered more breaches than those acknowledged by CBA.
"In the course of trading on the BBSW market in Australia on five occasions between February and June 2012, CBA attempted to engage in unconscionable conduct in breach of the ASIC Act," CBA said in a statement on Wednesday.
"CBA will also acknowledge it did not have adequate policies and systems in place to monitor the trading and communications of its staff in order to prevent that conduct from occurring." CBA has also agreed to enter into an enforceable undertaking with ASIC, under which an independent expert will review its BBSW business.
Ratings agency Fitch this week downgraded CommBank's outlook for its long-term debt default risk from stable to negative, citing concerns management will shift focus to regulatory issues at the expense of the bank's ongoing operations.
- with AAP