The royal commission has revealed allegations that several NAB employees were bribed by members of a mortgage referral program that included financial advisers.
Speaking under oath during the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry’s public hearings on Tuesday, NAB executive Anthony Waldron gave evidence relating to the bank’s so-called ‘introducer’ program.
According to Mr Waldron, the bank currently has around 1,400 introducers in the program, made up of third-party professionals who help NAB mortgage brokers source fresh leads.
Between 2013 and 2016, the major bank reportedly had around 8,000 introducers on its books and, during this period, several instances of misconduct were identified, the royal commission heard.
Senior counsel assisting the royal commission Rowena Orr QC questioned Mr Waldron to try and establish what controls were in place to ensure that referrers were not over-stepping their legal obligations or community expectations, and touched on several instances of misconduct.
“You tell us in your statement that NAB receive anonymous calls to its whistle-blower program in September and October 2015, which were described as alerting NAB to potential misconduct by bankers in certain NAB branches,” Ms Orr said to Mr Waldron.
Highlighting an email between NAB employees, it was revealed that a whistle-blower had alleged that NAB staff members were “charging NAB customers a fee for personal loans. These fees are allegedly made as cash payments under the table”.
It was revealed that a customer and a broker had highlighted the behaviour, which involved a branch manager and two branch ‘customer advisers’.
“This was not about the introducer program at all, was it? It was, in fact, an allegation of bribery,” Ms Orr submitted.
“Potentially, yes,” the NAB executive responded.
Although the identity of the alleged bribers was not made public, the commission heard that financial advisers were among the professionals involved in the NAB introducer program, alongside lawyers and accountants.
The hearing went on to hear of another case in which a “syndicate” of branch managers were accepting bribes and fraudulent documents from home and personal loan customers.
Commissioner Kenneth Hayne said that over the course of the proceedings he will be investigating the way that ADIs and other financial services entities have handled complaints and whistleblower information.
The commission convened at 4pm and will resume its hearing of evidence from Mr Waldron at 10am today.
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