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Royal Commission Banking

Royal Commission Banking – we can help you make a submission

If you are worried about retribution for making a submission to the Royal Commission into Banking, the big 4 banks have agreed not to sue any victims or current or former employees who breach non-disclosure agreements or confidentiality clauses.  Suncorp and Bendigo Bank have matched the promise not to sue victims and the ABA are waiting for a response from other non-major banks but says they expect to see the same.

Further, the Commissioner Kenneth Hayne says that Section 6(m) of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 prohibits anyone from inflicting “any violence, punishment, damage, loss, or disadvantage to any person” for appearing as a witness and that “Suing the person would almost certainly fall within that prohibition,”.

If you need assistance to lodge a complaint to the Banking Royal Commission, we can help.

See two media stories covering these issues below:

Big banks waive rights to sue staff and victims who give evidence at royal commission

By The Business presenter Elysse Morgan

The Commonwealth Bank, the bank at the centre of many of the biggest scandals to hit the industry, is the last major bank to confirm that victims and former staff are free to give evidence to the financial services royal commission.

The bank has indicated current staff will also be able to volunteer evidence free from retribution.

NAB, ANZ and Westpac have confirmed to the ABC that they will not sue customers or staff who breach non-disclosure agreements or confidentiality clauses by giving information to, or testifying at, the inquiry.

There were serious concerns that the most egregious stories about the big banks’ misconduct may never be heard because victims were gagged by agreements signed by victims when claims have been settled.

“ANZ will not rely on confidentiality agreements it has entered into with customers who want to either make a submission or appear before the royal commission,” the bank’s spokesperson said.

“If any of our customers want to make a submission to the royal commission, we encourage them to do so and we will waive any confidentiality obligations they have agreed to when resolving an issue with NAB,” NAB chief legal and commercial counsel Sharon Cook told the ABC.

“We are doing this because it is important to us that we support customers being heard by the royal commission.

“We have also communicated to our people we fully support them making a submission to the royal commission if they would like to.”

The Commonwealth Bank issued a statement saying it “will not enforce confidentiality obligations in non-disclosure or other agreements (NDAs) to prevent people from making a submission to the royal commission. This waiver only relates to submissions made to the royal commission”.

The ACTU has been receiving information about the banks from members of the public to put into its own submission to the royal commission.

The ACTU launched a campaign today to ensure that the royal commission pushed banks to waive their legal rights, and has welcomed the banks’ swift responses.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-08/victims-free-to-speak-to-royal-commission-as-banks-waive-rights/9410128

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Royal commissioner says existing law enough to stop banks suing victims, whistleblowers

Nationals senator John Williams fears banks could sue witnesses for breaching pre-existing confidentiality deals

SBS News By James Elton-Pym

The judge overseeing the Royal Commission into misconduct in the financial sector has urged more victims to come forward with evidence, even if they have signed private settlements with banks that include confidentiality clauses.

Nationals senator John Williams, who was instrumental in forcing the Turnbull Government to order the investigation, has voiced concerns a large number of victims might be “too scared” to come forward and risk legal action.

But at the opening of the first hearing in Melbourne on Monday, Commissioner Kenneth Hayne said there were already laws to protect witnesses.

Section 6(m) of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 prohibits anyone from inflicting “any violence, punishment, damage, loss, or disadvantage to any person” for appearing as a witness.

“Suing the person would almost certainly fall within that prohibition,” Commissioner Hayne told the hearing.

Nationals senator considers intervention

Senator Williams said he was considering a last-minute plan to protect would-be witnesses with parliamentary privilege.

He said he was considering setting up a Senate inquiry to accept evidence and forward it to the Commission, avoiding the risk of legal action from banks.

Many victims of misconduct by banks, insurance brokers and superannuation firms have already signed private settlements, which normally include confidentiality clauses.

The Big Four banks – including the Commonwealth Bank, which has been at the centre of many of the recent scandals – have already promised not to sue any victims or former employees.

But Senator Williams says the protection needs to extend to victims of dozens of remaining smaller banks, regional banks and insurance brokers bound by a similar arrangement.

“We’ve got to have a clean sweep here so people can come forward with total confidence, without fearing being sued and losing their house,” Senator Williams said on Monday morning.

The backbench senator’s comments came before the Commissioner’s comments assuring witnesses they would be protected under existing law.

SBS News has contacted Senator Williams to see if his concerns were allayed but has not yet heard back.

The senator said he would prefer all institutions to match the promise from the Big Four.

But he said a Senate inquiry was a backup option.

“Otherwise we’re going to get people too scared to come forward, maybe very important evidence of fraud or corruption … which will make a bit of a farce of the Royal Commission,” he said.

Senator Williams said he had not discussed the idea with other parties.

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne replied to a letter from Senator Williams last week and said he would not be “changing the rules”, according to the senator.

The Nationals senators have also raised the matter with Attorney-General Christian Porter and are waiting for a response.

The national investigation into wrongdoing by banks, superannuation funds and insurance firms was announced by the Turnbull Government late last year, when it finally caved to pressure from Labor, the Greens and a group of its own Nationals members.

Banking lobby ‘expects’ remaining banks to offer protection

The Australian Bankers’ Association said the promise from the Big Four was iron-clad, and suggested the remaining firms would soon follow suit.

ABA president Anna Bligh said Suncorp Bank and Bendigo Bank had already agreed to match the promise not to sue victims.

“All other non-majors are currently giving consideration to this, and I would expect that we will see the same,” Ms Bligh told ABC News.

The national investigation into wrongdoing by banks, superannuation funds and insurance firms was announced by the Turnbull Government late last year, when it finally caved to pressure from Labor, the Greens and a group of its own Nationals members.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/royal-commissioner-says-existing-law-enough-to-stop-banks-suing-victims-whistleblowers


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