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Issues with your bank? Raise it with AFCA

Gotta love it – when asked if the Banking Code of Practice is legally enforceable the Australian Banking Code of Practice says it is, and says ASIC is responsible for enforcing it. 

ASIC then refer the issue to the Banking Compliance Operation Committee but say individuals should contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority who, judging by the feedback I hear from people, do nothing. 

Yet again, another example of government agencies passing the buck whilst kicking complaints about banks into the long grass. 

If you have been shafted by a bank please contact the link below and let AFCA know you’re not happy. 

https://www.afca.org.au/make-a-complaint

Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee
01/12/2023
Bank closures in regional Australia

Senator RENNICK: Thank you. My next question is for ASIC. When asked if the Banking Code of Practice is legally enforceable, the Australian Banking Association says it is and then points to ASIC as being responsible for enforcing the Banking Code of Practice. When you hop onto the ASIC website it is very difficult to find where a complaint can be lodged about a breach of the banking code. Is there somewhere on the ASIC website where we can go and lodge a complaint about the breach of the banking code?

Mr Kirkland : We happily receive any complaints that members of the public would like to lodge with ASIC. It would not be strictly correct to say that ASIC enforces compliance with the banking code. We have a role. Where an industry body asks ASIC to approve a code, that’s not something they’re required to do but an industry body can ask us to approve a code under our legislation. The Australian Banking Association has recently asked us to do that for the second time, and we’ve recently opened public consultation on that because we’re very interested in the views of stakeholders on whether that code should be approved. Our role is relatively limited in relation to the code. There are a range of matters we’re required to consider under the legislation when deciding whether to approve a code, which I can go into if that’s of help to the committee.

The operation of the code is overseen by the Banking Code Compliance Committee; it can make decisions and determinations in relation to compliance with the code. The code is also something the Australian Financial Complaints Authority considers when it’s considering individual complaints from consumers. Our general advice to consumers, if they have a concern about the way in which a bank has complied with the code, in a way that has impacted on their rights as a customer, is: whether that consumer is an individual or a small business, we would encourage them to go to AFCA because that is the body that has the power to determine complaints in those individual matters, and it can, where appropriate and where it’s within its powers, make determinations that require remediation.

Senator RENNICK: So it’s AFCA that has the Banking Code Compliance Committee; is that correct? We’ve just lost you guys—okay.

I know of a couple of small businesses who are involved in cash transit, managing cash, and these particular businesses have been de-banked by the major banks. My question is for the ACCC or APRA: how is it that banks can de-bank legitimate businesses in Australia when they’re not breaking the law?

Mr Fleming : I’ll take that one and see how much I can answer. We’ve looked into de-banking issues generally in the past, and we’re happy to look into future issues as well if you want to raise those with us. Generally we’ve found there’s a range of obligations that banks have for compliance, including any money laundering, and some of the reasons banks have de-banked others have been around not being able to meet those requirements. I don’t know the example you’re talking about specifically but we’re happy to look at that.

Senator RENNICK: If I can put you onto our contact, you’re happy to have that conversation with him?

Mr Fleming : Yes.

Senator RENNICK: Thank you.

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