The new chief executive of Australia's largest lender has warned that “there are difficult times” ahead for his institution as it faces up to a series of “unacceptable” failures, including its conduct over add-on policies.
Mat Comyn took charge of the Commonwealth Bank this week and committed to straightening up the bank's act and making it more accountable, following a series of scandals in which the bank was accused of regulatory breaches and short-changing customers.
The latest of the scandals were AUSTRAC allegations of breaching money-laundering and counter-terrorism laws, which cost Comyn and other executives their bonuses last year.
In a letter to CBA staff, Comyn said the bank has “not done enough to protect our customers; that starts with me and our senior executives” and has “been too slow to fix mistakes and we have failed to meet some important regulatory and compliance obligations – this is unacceptable,” AAP reported.
The 42-year-old former retail banking boss – who inherited the top job, along with the bank's numerous problems, from retired CBA CEO Ian Narev – said it would not be easy to rebuild trust.
“We have some difficult times ahead,” Comyn said.
The new CBA boss said the bank was acknowledging its failings, which the banking royal commission has heard include reckless lending, IT failings, and mis-sold insurance, AAP said.
“We will promptly address the issues raised by the royal commission and our regulators,” Comyn wrote. “We will be more accountable, more transparent, and more focused on our customers.”
Since his appointment in January, Comyn has scrapped the sale of controversial add-on insurance policies, and replaced three of his predecessor’s senior executives.
“I’ve spent time with our customers, regulators, investors, community leaders, and many of you talking about what we can do better,” Comyn said. “I’ve also spoken with customers who have come up to me on the street to share their criticism and their expectations of what we need to do differently.”
CBA is set for a Federal Court-ordered mediation with AUSTRAC until late May over allegations of more than 53,000 money-laundering and terrorism funding breaches. Meanwhile, the bank's frameworks and reactions to scandals including the AUSTRAC case are still being examined by APRA, AAP said.