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Antonia Watson has been named as ANZ New Zealand’s acting CEO, replacing former chief executive David Hisco, who departed the bank following “ongoing health issues” as well as “board concern about the characterisation of certain transactions”.
ANZ New Zealand chair Sir John Key stated in a press conference on Monday (17 June) that the bank had conducted an internal review of personal expenses, which raised “concern” about Mr Hisco’s personal use of chauffeur-driven cars, as well as storage costs that were charged without the provision of proper disclosures.
“While Mr Hisco does not accept all of the concerns raised by the board, he accepts accountability given his leadership position and agrees the characterisation of the expenses falls short of the standards required,” ANZ’s disclosure to the ASX states.
Mr Hisco will forfeit unvested equity entitlements, valued at NZ$6.4 million, but will receive his contracted and statutory entitlements, the bank noted.
Mr Key expressed disappointment at the circumstances under which the former CEO is leaving, especially after a long career at the bank.
“However, his departure is the right one in these circumstances given the expectations we have of all our people, no matter how senior or junior,” the chair said.
Mr Key stated in the press conference that the departing CEO has not been required to repay the bank.
“The reason for that is that David is adamant that he had authority for the expenditure that was undertaken. If he did have authority, it was oral in nature, so it is difficult to establish one way or the other,” he said.
“What is at the heart of this issue, though, is the way that the expenditure was recognised in our books. In other words, in our view, it was mischaracterised or there was a lack of transparency.”
The chair said that Ms Watson’s “extensive banking career” makes her well positioned to help the bank manage the transition.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority have been informed of the changes and provided all requisite filings, the bank noted in its ASX disclosure.
“This culture of strong values is one I and the ANZ New Zealand board believe is important, and why we have been open with the regulator, our customers and the public about this matter,” Mr Key said in the press conference.
[Related: ANZ’s mortgage book continues thinning]