ANZ will have to pay a $236 million bill for failing to deliver promised benefits to customers for 20 years.
The Federal Court found that ANZ had failed to grant about 689,000 customers their right to fee waivers and interest rate discounts, resulting in a $211 million rectification bill and a $25 million penalty.
The benefits have been offered to customers with offset transaction accounts and ‘Breakfree’ packages for two decades.
“Having the necessary systems and processes in place to ensure customers receive the benefits promised is not an optional extra, it’s a requirement,” ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court said.
“ANZ is a major financial institution that has for many years failed to prioritize and deploy the systems and processes necessary to meet its obligations.”
It is the latest case brought by the Financial Services Royal Commission, which has since collected more than $160 million in fines.
The ANZ Breakfree package – introduced in 2003 – offered fee waivers and interest rate discounts on eligible ANZ products such as home loans, credit cards and transaction accounts.
Customers paid an annual fee for these promised benefits, but thousands of customers reportedly did not receive them.
Holders of offset transaction accounts were eligible for lower interest rates on eligible home and commercial loans, and these benefits were not always passed on to customers.
ANZ was also found to have made “false or misleading” representations to customers when it said it had adequate systems in place to deliver benefits.
“The nature and scale of the breaches were such that they occurred over a significant period of time and affected a large number of customers, resulting in the need for a significant sum of money to be remedied,” Judge O’Callaghan said.
ASIC also took into account the time delay in identifying and remediating affected customers when imposing the fine.
The court found that the conduct continued “as long as it did” because of deficiencies in ANZ’s systems, compounded by inaction.
The court ordered ANZ to publish an adverse publicity order on its website and online banking login page.
Originally published as ANZ fined more than 20 years for failing to honor customer preferences