In August, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against NAB over allegations that 16 bankers accepted loan information and documentation from 25 unlicensed introducers in relation to 297 mortgages.
ASIC alleged that between 3 September 2013 and 29 July 2016, NAB accepted information and documents in support of 297 consumer loan applications from third-party introducers who were not licensed to engage in credit activity.
NAB has now confirmed that it has admitted to 255 of the alleged breaches of section 31 of the National Consumer Credit Protections Act.
In admitting the breaches, NAB acknowledged that introducers went beyond their remit to “spot and refer” clients.
Over the course of the banking royal commission, NAB also identified that misconduct within its introducer program went undetected until 2015 for reasons including:
- no head of the introducer program, with a general manager only being appointed in October 2016
- a lack of systems to monitor or review introducers
- controls over the introducer program relied heavily on bankers
The maximum penalty for one breach of s31(1) of the National Credit Act, during the time of contravention, was 10,000 penalty units, or $1.7 million to $1.8 million.
However, in August, ASIC acknowledged that the maximum penalty under the law was “well beyond” what could be expected to be imposed by a court.
The Federal Court is yet to deliver its judgment.
NAB has since closed its introducer program, with the bank announcing in March that it would not remunerate introducers after 1 October 2019.
In a statement to Mortgage Business, NAB’s chief customer officer for consumer banking, Mike Baird, said: “As we have said previously, the program had inherent risks and ultimately fell short of customer and community expectations.
“We want customers to have the confidence to come to NAB because of the products and services we provide – not because a third party received a payment to recommend us.
“As we announced in March, we have ceased our Introducer Payment Program and we have run a remediation program for impacted customers.”
He concluded: “We have put every effort into remediating our customers and will continue to make changes to earn the trust of our customers and the community.”
[Related: ASIC sues NAB over unlicensed introducers]
Charbel Kadib is the news editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2017, Charbel completed internships with public relations agency Fifty Acres, and the Department of Communications and the Arts.