APRA names heavyweight panel to investigate CBA

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority appointed three highly experienced panel members to conduct an inquiry into the governance, culture and accountability frameworks of the Commonwealth Bank.

Chairman of the Banking and Finance Oath, John Laker; professorial fellow in the Monash Business School, Professor Graeme Samuel; and company director Jillian Broadbent will undertake the inquiry with the support of the regulator.

Laker served as chairman of APRA over an 11-year period from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2014, and is an external expert for the International Monetary Fund.

Samuel has held a number of roles in public life including former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, associate member of the Australian Communications and Media Authority and President of the National Competition Council.

Broadbent currently services on the board of Woolworths, is the chair of the board of Swiss Re Life and Health Australia Limited and chancellor of the University of Wollongong.

Commenting on the appointments, APRA chairman Wayne Byres said: "APRA is pleased to have secured the services of three highly experienced and credentialed panel members to conduct the prudential inquiry."

"Between them, John, Graeme and Jillian bring an excellent blend of skills and experience to the task, including in matters of corporate governance and organisational culture."

As previously announced, the goal of the inquiry will be to identify any shortcomings in the governance, culture and accountability frameworks and practices within CBA, and make recommendations as to how they are promptly and adequately addressed.

It would include, at a minimum, considering whether the group's organisational structure, governance, financial objectives, remuneration and accountability frameworks are conflicting with sound risk management and compliance outcomes.

At the time, APRA chairman Wayne Byres said the decision to initiate a prudential inquiry followed a number of issues which have raised concerns regarding the frameworks and practices, and have damaged the bank's reputation and public standing.

"The Australian community's trust in the banking system has been damaged in recent years, and CBA in particular has been negatively impacted by a number of issues that have affected the reputation of the bank," Byres said.

"Given its position in the Australian financial system, it is critical that community trust is strengthened. A key objective of the inquiry will be to provide CBA with a set of recommendations for organisation and cultural change, where that is identified as being necessary."

In a statement, CBA acknowledged the appointment of the panel members and terms of reference for the inquiry and stated its intention to provide them with its full co-operation.

The panel comes on the heels of potential shareholder class action launched by lawyers Maurice Blackburn with litigation funder IMF Bentham bank last week.

CBA is also fighting a Federal Court action launched by AUSTRAC which accuses the bank of breaking anti-money laundering regulations on nearly 54,000 occasions.

In addition, ASIC is investigating CBA to determine whether its directors met continuous disclosure obligations to its investors.

The inquiry panel will provide a final report to APRA by 30 April 2018, with a progress report due on 31 January 2018. The regulator intends to make the report public.

Read more: CBAAPRAAustralian Prudential Regulation AuthorityCommonwealth BankWayne ByresGraeme SamuelJillian BroadbentJohn Laker
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