Ian Narev is under attack for the ‘culture of bad behaviour’ at the Commonwealth Bank


The Commonwealth’s chief executive Ian Narev came under attack over his bank’s “unethical behaviour” when he appeared before the House of Representatives economics committee in Canberra today.

The committee’s deputy chairman, the ALP’s Matt Thistlethwaite, took issue with a comment from Narev: “We understand that we need to be fair and be seen to be fair.”

Thistlethwaite said the bank’s victims just keep coming.

“Isn’t this the problem that there is a culture of bad behaviour?”

The banks have been hit by a series of scandals including giving faulty financial planning advice to customers and restricting payouts for disability insurance claims. as well as allegations of rigging the bank bill swap rate (the Commonwealth Bank is not included in this).

This week all four major bank CEO are appearing before the parliamentary committee. Narev is the first.

Thistlethwaite says Commonwealth customers keep saying that when they raise issues nothing is done.

“Why does it take them going to the media to get justice?”

Thistlethwaite raised the CommInsure scandal where the bank used outdated medical definitions to reject claims.

“That’s sneaky and unethical isn’t it to use outdated medical definitions,” Thistlethwaite said.

Last night ABC TV’s 7.30 detailed another CommInsure case involving a CBA customer of 20 years who died in 2014. The coroner and police both ruled the mother of two died from an accidental overdose of a prescription drug, but when the family tried to claim on her accidental death insurance, CommInsure rejected the claim saying she “unfortunately passed away due to suicide and suicide is excluded under the policy”.

CommInsure said it made a mistake after it was contacted by 7.30, apologised and said it would reopen the case, but added it would most likely be rejected because she took someone else’s medication.

Narev today said there was still work to do. ​”We have done wrong by some customers in that business and other businesses​,” Narev said.

However, the vast majority of customers were getting good service and getting what they thought they were getting.

“All of our investigations to date suggest that the overall culture of the business is good,” Narev said.

He said no employees had been sacked over rejecting claims.