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BABL named, shamed over Great Southern

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited (BABL) has been singled out as breaching the Code of Banking Practice within its Great Southern Loans business unit.

The Banking Code Compliance Committee (BCCC) said in its annual report that the BABL breaches occurred between February 2015 and February 2019.

The breaches included non-compliance with a number of the code's important consumer protections, such as debt collection practices and the treatment of customers experiencing financial difficulty.

The BCCC has the power to apply sanctions to code subscribing banks that commit breaches, including naming the bank in their annual report.

This is the first time the BCCC has ever named a bank for non-compliance and only the second time since 2008 that a bank has received such a sanction.

"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 Great Southern Loan customers," BCCC independent chair Ian Govey said.

"We acknowledge the work the bank has undertaken to date to address the issues that came to light following an audit into Great Southern Loan'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 Great Southern Loan business unit was found to be largely segregated from broader BABL operations and to have an inadequate framework to cope with a large influx of collections activity.

The BCCC concluded that the bank's lack of oversight led to a failure to build a strong compliance structure and framework that could robustly identify, investigate, record and report instances of non-compliance with the code.

Read more: BCCCGreat Southern LoanBendigo and Adelaide Bank LimitedCode of Banking PracticeBanking Code Compliance CommitteeBendigo BankIan Govey
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