commonwealth

While the primary business focus has been on the AMP debacle this week, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority this morning revealed that, even without criminal charges, the Commonwealth Bank and its board is every bit as bad as AMP and probably worse. So bad that APRA has slapped the biggest financial penalty ever on an Australian company and damned the bank's weak culture and hopeless board oversight.

APRA appointed a three person committee to examine the CBA’s culture and processes in the wake of AUSTRAC's money laundering allegations, which have already cost CEO Ian Narev his job and seen the bank replace four directors. The report from former APRA chair John Laker, businesswoman and RBA board member Jillian Broadbent and former ACCC head Graeme Samuel is scathing. “CBA’s continued financial success dulled the senses of the institution”, it concludes, particularly in relation to the management of non-financial risks (like complying with the law). It was "complacent" and "desensitised to failings with customers". It was "reactive": "operational risk and compliance issues tended to receive attention only once they had emerged ... a slow, legalistic and reactive, at times dismissive, culture also characterised many of CBA’s dealings with regulators" and it was "insular" -- including "[turning] a tin ear to external voices and community expectations about fair treatment."