The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has launched legal action in the Federal Court against the Commonwealth Bank, alleging it incorrectly charged monthly access fees to almost a million customers.
ASIC is claiming that for a period of nine years, from June 2010 and 11 September 2019, the Commonwealth Bank charged monthly access fees to customers who were entitled to fee waivers under their bank contracts. The incorrect fees amount to almost $55 million, ASIC alleges.
Between April 2015 and September 2019, the period for which the court can impose a penalty, ASIC alleges that the Commonwealth Bank incorrectly charged monthly access fees on approximately 2.4 million occasions, totalling around $11.5 million.
ASIC alleges several things led to the incorrect charges being made, including the bank’s systems and processes being inadequate and improperly configured as well manual errors made by CBA staff.
In charging the monthly fees, the Commonwealth Bank engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and failed to comply with financial services laws, it alleged.
ASIC also alleges that CBA failed to provide financial services efficiently, honestly and fairly by failing to apply monthly access fee waivers to customer accounts after it said it would as well as failing to maintain and review its systems.
In a statement, the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) said it acknowledged the errors and that they should not have happened.
“CBA accepts these errors should not have occurred and has provided several breach reports to ASIC in relation to these issues. ASIC does not allege that any of the contraventions were deliberate.”
The Commonwealth Bank said it had co-operated fully with ASIC during its investigation, but would defend the matter in court because it did not accept the way that the alleged contraventions have been formulated in the proceedings.
The bank said it had already paid back $64.2 million, which included interest on the incorrect fees, to customers.