ANZ Directors Sought 'The Highest Fee We Can Charge', Lawyers Claim

Lawyers representing 43,500 Australian ANZ customers in a dispute over fees claim that the bank’s directors drove plans to charge the maximum amounts possible.

Lucille Keen of the AFR reports that lawyer Michael Lee told a Melbourne court that board minutes “showed that they were thinking ‘what’s the highest fee that we can charge when these changes come into effect'”.

Lee said a $35 dishonour fee for overdrawn accounts raised $151 million for ANZ in the 2009 financial year. The class action, led by law firm Maurice Blackburn argues that ANZ’s fees of between $25-$45 were “exorbitant, unfair penalties rather than fees for services”.

Today’s hearing comes more than three years after lawyers first filed the class action against ANZ over fees charged over a six-year period, and is part of a wider case involving a total of 185,300 customers of ANZ, Westpac, NAB, the Commonwealth Bank, BankSA, Bankwest, Citibank and St George.

Maurice Blackburn hopes to recover a total of $243 million from the lawsuits, which are funded by Bentham IMF.

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