Australian Probe Into Bank Misconduct to Release Report Friday

(Bloomberg) -- An Australian inquiry into misconduct in the country’s financial system will release its interim report Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

The government-appointed inquiry, known as a Royal Commission, has unearthed a string of scandals since public hearings began in March, including wealth advisers charging dead people for services, lying to regulators about misconduct, and loan officers accepting bribes.

“We’ll be releasing that report today,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Friday. “I’m not going to prejudge any of that, we’ll take a careful look. The Royal Commission has been very vigorous in looking at the details of all of these quite heartbreaking cases.”

The inquiry has heard National Australia Bank Ltd. and Commonwealth Bank of Australia may face criminal charges over multiple breaches of the law in their treatment of pension customers, while Westpac Banking Corp., Commonwealth Bank and wealth manager AMP Ltd. could have breached the Corporations Act in dealings with customers.

The revelations are already starting to reshape the industry. Most of the banks are looking to sell their financial planning units, where most of the problems occurred, have tightened lending criteria, and cut fees. The chief executive officer and chairman of AMP quit and National Australia Bank has overhauled its executive team and pay structure, while the prospect of slowing growth has helped wipe out A$39 billion ($28 billion) of market value from the big four banks and AMP this year.

The inquiry’s public hearings will conclude later this year, and a final report will be released in February 2019.

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