The Banking Code Compliance Committee (BCCC) has sanctioned ANZ for not stopping or refunding fees for deceased estates, as well as not responding to representatives of deceased estates within the required timeframe.

Between July 2019 and September 2023, ANZ breached its Code obligations by failing to stop or refund fees charged to deceased estates after customers’ deaths.

ANZ further breached its Code obligations by not responding to instructions or requests for information from representatives of deceased estates within the required 14 days.

Chair of the BCCC, Ian Govey AM, noted the seriousness of the breaches.

“The decision to name ANZ for its non-compliance reflects the seriousness of its Code breaches,” Mr Govey said.

“Naming a bank is a sanction that we reserve for the most serious and systemic breaches.

“The significance of the deficiencies in ANZ’s compliance frameworks was deeply concerning. Its non-compliance warranted such a sanction,” said Mr Govey.

Despite first identifying the issues in early 2022, ANZ took over a year to implement solutions and then nearly two years to start its customer remediation program, which is still ongoing and expected to be finalised by the end of July 2024.

Mr Govey noted concerns with the remediation efforts from ANZ.

“The remediation did not meet expectations. Once aware of the issues, ANZ did not act with sufficient urgency to remediate the affected customers. It should have done more to address this more quickly,” Mr Govey said.

However, the BCCC acknowledged that ANZ’s remediation included the use of assumptions beneficial to customers, including reimbursing charges that may already have been refunded.

The BCCC also found that another bank had breached obligations by failing to stop or refund certain fees charged to deceased estates after customers’ deaths.

However, in that case, the sanction from the BCCC was to formally warn the bank about its conduct.

“We determined that in this case a warning was appropriate given the circumstances,” Mr Govey said.

“We considered the lower financial impact, the smaller number of affected estates and the swiftness with which the bank acted. It identified the issue in June 2022 and by August 2022 had taken action to prevent future breaches.”

The sanctions come off the back of the BCCC’s inquiry from 2023 which examined banks’ compliance with obligations for deceased estates in the Banking Code of Practice.

The inquiry led to three investigations, the third of which is expected to be finalised shortly.

“Our inquiry and investigation work promotes Code compliance, holds banks accountable to their commitments, and ensures banks take appropriate action to make things right for customers,” Mr Govey said.

Read the summary of the ANZ investigation and the summary of investigation for the unnamed bank.