Maurice Blackburn has filed a shareholder class action against CBA related to the bank’s handling of its AUSTRAC compliance obligations.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn and litigation funder IMF Bentham have moved ahead with the shareholder class action, with the statement of claim to the Victorian Registry of the Federal Court of Australia filed yesterday.
According to a statement by Maurice Blackburn, the statement of claim specifically identifies chief executive Ian Narev, chair Catherine Livingstone, chief risk officers Alden Toevs and David Cohen, and non-executive directors Launa Inman and Sir David Higgins as having “early knowledge of the AUSTRAC issues”.
Following AUSTRAC’s allegations of the bank’s 53,7000 contraventions of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006, CBA shareholders “suffer[ed] from a significant share price drop”.
Maurice Blackburn national head of class actions Andrew Watson said, “Our investigations and analysis show that this drop was in the top 1 per cent of price movements that CBA experienced in the past five years, so clearly the news was of material significance to shareholders.”
Shareholders “have sent a clear signal that they won’t tolerate the corporate misconduct that has mired the bank in bad news in recent times, with thousands registering their interest in the class action, including hundreds of institutional investors”, he said.
“Investors would expect the CBA to take a leadership role in setting high standards of corporate conduct,” Mr Watson said.
“Given the opposite appears to have happened here, shareholders have every right to seek accountability by exercising their legal rights in the most efficient and effective way possible – through the class actions regime.”
The case will be headed by plaintiff William Phillips and filed on an open class basis, “meaning all affected shareholders will have their rights protected, and those that don’t wish to participate can opt out”, the statement said.
“Investors need to have faith in the integrity of the market for the market to properly function, and it is fair to expect that the biggest players on the market will live up to that expectation,” IMF Bentham executive director Hugh McLernon said.
Shareholders who purchased shares between 1 July 2015 and 1pm on 3 August 2017 can still participate in the class action by registering details on the IMF website.
On Monday afternoon, CBA released a statement acknowledging the class action filed against it.
"Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) has today been served with a class action proceeding filed in the Federal Court of Australia in Melbourne," the statement said.
"CBA intends to vigorously defend this claim."
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