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ASB agrees to an independent review of its processes over rural swaps

ASB Bank has agreed to an independent review into the way it sold rural interest rate swaps, and will adopt any recommendations if it's found to have fallen short.

Paul McBeth
Mon, 22 Jun 2015

ASB Bank, the local subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, has agreed to an independent review into the way it sold rural interest rate swaps, and will adopt any recommendations if it's found to have fallen short.

The Auckland-based lender reached a settlement with the Financial Markets Authority to call in a third party to review the sale, promotion and marketing of the swaps to some customers, though doesn't accept it did anything wrong in its sale of the instruments.

In December, ASB cut a deal with the Commerce Commission over the sale of the swaps, agreeing to make $2.7 million available to compensate the 40 eligible customers who registered their complaints with the commission, pay $250,000 toward the commission's investigation costs and a further $250,000 to the Dairy Women's Network.

The FMA said it had concerns stemming from the commission's investigation over the way ASB marketed and sold the swaps but didn't carry out a separate probe into the lender.

Today's settlement will see ASB hire a third party acceptable to both the bank and the FMA to review and report on whether the lender has processes and procedures to minimise the risk of making misleading statements when selling interest rate swaps and the ASB Term Fund. If the review finds ASB doesn't have reasonably appropriate processes, it can make recommendations the bank has to adopt by December 18. The reviewer is also allowed to make non-binding recommendations if it wishes.

"This settlement recognises our concerns about the imbalance of information that can exist between customers and financial service providers," FMA general counsel Liam Mason said in a statement. "The review will also help to ensure robust sales and advice processes, including the disclosure of all relevant information, and that they meet the standards of the new regulatory framework."

The Commerce Commission investigation into the sale of the swaps led to settlements with ASB, ANZ Bank New Zealand and Westpac New Zealand, totalling compensation payments of $24.2 million.

(BusinessDesk)

Paul McBeth
Mon, 22 Jun 2015
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ASB agrees to an independent review of its processes over rural swaps
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