CBA, NAB chiefs next in the firing line

The chief executives of the two major banks will appear before a parliamentary committee on Friday to face a barrage of questions on mortgages and money laundering.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics is conducting further public hearings with Australia’s four major banks in October as part of its ongoing review of the banking sector.

Last week, the committee heard from Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer and ANZ chief Shayne Elliott.

Committee chair David Coleman MP was eager to identify the proportion of interest-only lending among these banks and why they had repriced their back books in response to APRA’s orders to cap all new interest-only lending at 30 per cent.

CBA, the nation’s largest lender, has been the centre of attention for a string of scandals, most recently the AUSTRAC money-laundering case.

Last week, the committee was eager to find out why Westpac and ANZ had substantially lower deposit limits on their intelligent deposit machines than CBA. It is understood that CBA allowed customers to deposit up to $20,000 in cash at a time through the ATMs. Westpac’s machines have a $4,000 limit and ANZ’s are capped at $5,000.

Committee chair David Coleman asked both Mr Hartzer and Mr Elliott what the commercial motivators were around why banks would have a particular limit on the use of these deposit machines.

“The issue of money laundering is a serious issue,” Mr Hartzer said. “It is a real scourge on society and it's a challenge for the whole economy.

“We work very closely with the regulators and with our own internal security people to make sure we identify, report and deal with money laundering, and we came to the view in our risk assessments that $4,000 was an appropriate limit.”

ANZ boss Shayne Elliott said that the bank is required to report cash transactions of $10,000 or more, as well as all international fund transfers and any matters that raise concern.

“Each year, we report millions of transactions to AUSTRAC,” Mr Elliott said. “AUSTRAC has advised us that it has found no evidence of noncompliance concerning our ATM network.”

NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn and COO Antony Cahill will appear before the committee at 9:15am on Friday.

CBA chief Ian Narev and chairman Catherine Livingstone AO will answer questions from 1:15pm.

[Related: ANZ dismisses UBS 'liar loans' report]

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