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Former CBA CEO told Comyn to ‘temper sense of justice’

Former Commonwealth Bank CEO Ian Narev denied his successor Matt Comyn’s recommendation to pull the sale of an “unsuitable” product that ultimately required remedial action totalling approximately $10 million.

In August 2017, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced that Commonwealth Bank (CBA) would refund $10 million to approximately 64,000 customers who were sold Credit Card Plus insurance for credit card repayments, despite being “unlikely to meet the employment criteria” and “unable to claim the insurance”.

Counsel assisting the financial services royal commission Rowena Orr QC has revealed during the course of the seventh round of public hearings that former CBA CEO Ian Narev told current CEO and former head of retail banking Matt Comyn to “temper” his “sense of justice” after Mr Comyn called for the removal of CBA’s Credit Card Plus insurance product.

Ms Orr asked Mr Comyn: “How did you feel about that comment from the CEO at that time, Mr Comyn?”

Mr Comyn replied: “I suspect I was slightly irritated by it.”

Ms Orr continued: “What was the sense of justice that you think Mr Narev was asking you to temper; a sense of justice for the customers of CBA?”

Mr Comyn said: “No. He was referring to... I was enthusiastically pursuing my argument which I thought was right. And he was telling me to temper it.”

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Ms Orr added: “To pursue it less enthusiastically?”

“Yes,” Mr Comyn replied.

Ms Orr then asked Mr Comyn how he would handle the situation if he were in Mr Narev’s position.

“My obligation would actually be to get the two competing views together, to hear both of those views and to make a clear decision,” Mr Comyn said.

To which Ms Orr added: “Would you handle the discussion in the way Mr Narev handled this discussion with you?”

Mr Comyn replied: “No, I do not think so.”

The seventh round of public hearings continues.

[Related: Reactive approach led to recurring misconduct: CBA]

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