ANZ has been penalised $10 million by the Federal Court in relation to its Home Loan Introducer Program (Introducer Program).
The Introducer Program involved home loan referrals to ANZ from third party ‘introducers’ from various professions, including cleaners and real estate agents.
ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said, ‘Under consumer protection laws, ANZ’s Introducer Program should have only accepted names and contact details for customers from unlicenced third parties. Instead, ANZ was sent sensitive information by unlicensed intermediaries, including pay slips and copies of identification documents. In some cases, these documents were fraudulent.’
The Court found that between March 2017 and March 2018, ANZ contravened consumer credit protection laws by accepting information and documents in support of 50 home loan applications from unlicenced third parties who were not licensed to engage in credit activity.
The Court also found that between November 2015 to March 2018, ANZ did not have adequate processes in place in its Introducer Program to ensure compliance and failed to take reasonable steps to ensure ANZ’s representatives complied with consumer credit protection laws.
‘By failing to have robust compliance and training processes in place, ANZ made it possible for third party intermediaries to misrepresent consumers’ financial details in order to receive commissions on loans approved based on possibly misleading information,’ concluded Ms Court.
ANZ admitted the contraventions and has agreed to conduct a review of its policies and procedures around its Introducer Program to ensure ongoing compliance with credit legislation.
ANZ has also been ordered to pay ASIC’s costs.
ANZ consented to these orders being made and the parties made joint submissions on liability and penalty.
The Court will publish its written reasons for the judgment at a later date.
‘Introducer’ programs, by which unlicensed third parties can refer customers to banks for loans, received considerable criticism in the Financial Services Royal Commission for exposing consumers to an additional layer of risk by insulating the lender from what the intermediary does with the borrower.
In October 2020, National Australia Bank (NAB) paid a $15 million penalty for dealing with unlicenced home loan introducers (20-247MR).
In November 2019, Former Western Sydney NAB branch manager, Mathew Alwan, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment to be served by way of Intensive Corrections Order for making false and misleading statements to NAB in relation to 24 home loan applications (19-315MR).