The Banking Code Compliance Committee (BCCC) has publicly named Bendigo and Adelaide Bank for serious and systemic breaches of the 2013 Code of Banking Practice (2013 Code) in its 2019–20 Annual Report released today.
The breaches occurred within Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Great Southern Loans (GSL) business unit over a period of four years from February 2015 to February 2019. They include non-compliance with a number of the 2013 Code’s important consumer protections, such as debt collection practices and the treatment of customers experiencing financial difficulty.
Under its Charter, the BCCC has the power to apply sanctions to a Code-subscribing bank for a breach of the Code, including publicly naming the bank in the its Annual Report and on its website.
This is the first time the BCCC has named a bank for non-compliance with the Code and only the second time since 2008 that a bank has received such a sanction.1
The BCCC’s Independent Chairperson, Ian Govey AM, said the decision to impose the naming sanction had not been made lightly.
“In deciding to name Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, the Committee has given careful consideration to a number of factors, including the seriousness of the breaches and their likely impact on GSL customers,” he said.
“We acknowledge the work the bank has undertaken to date to address the issues that came to light following an audit into GSL’s operations, and to fix the root causes to ensure Code compliance. We also note Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has commenced efforts to remediate customers who were adversely impacted by non-compliance with the 2013 Code.”
The 2019–20 Annual Report also contains a snapshot of the BCCC’s work during its first year monitoring the 2019 Banking Code of Practice (2019 Code). The Annual Report highlights that the BCCC:
- published two data reports benchmarking banks’ Code compliance. Banks self-reported 20,863 Code breaches for the six months to December 2019 – an increase of 34% on the number reported for the entire 2018–19 reporting period
- conducted an inquiry into banks’ transition to the 2019 Code and met regularly with industry to reinforce the importance of Code compliance
- liaised with the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide relief that enabled banks to direct their resources towards assisting customers in need
- commenced major monitoring activities into banks’ compliance with guarantee and vulnerability obligations, and required banks to conduct internal and external audits to support our targeted monitoring work
- published Guidance Notes and commissioned research into organisation capability to help banks transition to the 2019 Code and achieve compliant outcomes for customers, and
- established an expert Small Business and Agribusiness Advisory Panel to provide the BCCC with advice on the banking needs of small business and agribusiness customers.
Details about the BCCC and its work are available on its website.
Chief Executive Officer
Banking Code Compliance Committee
1 The BCCC was formed on 1 July 2019 to coincide with the release of the 2019 Banking Code of Practice. It transitioned from the former Code Compliance Monitoring Committee (CCMC), which was in operation from 1 April 2004 to 30 June 2019.