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ANZ backs public breach reporting

ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott has given his in principle support for the public airing of ASIC breach reports and the naming of responsible executives.


Appearing before a government inquiry into the four major banks yesterday, ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott said he was "largely supportive" of the committee's proposal to make ASIC breach reports public.

The standing committee on economics is currently conducting hearings for its second Review of the Big Four Banks report.

One of the key recommendations of the inquiry's first report was that Australian Financial Services Licence holders be required to make ASIC breach reports public within five days of reporting them to the regulator.

The committee also recommended that the names of senior executives responsible for the team(s) where the breach occurred be made public, along with the consequences for said senior executives.

CBA chief executive Ian Narev and ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott appeared before the committee yesterday, while NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn was questioned on Friday.

Mr Narev followed in the footsteps of NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn by refusing to endorse the committee recommendation that breach reports be made public.

CBA's formal response said a five-day timeframe for public breach reporting is "neither practical nor adequate" and "could create concern among customers where none was warranted".

Mr Thorburn was castigated by committee chair Liberal MP David Coleman on Friday for failing to address the issue of public breach reporting despite being directly asked about it three times.

But ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott was more forthcoming than his fellow chief executives, telling the committee his bank is "largely supportive" of public breach reporting – with a few caveats.

"We support this. We're saying if there's a breach that has occurred, and it has been reported, we are very happy to make that public and we're happy to name the responsible executive for the division in which that breach occurred," Mr Elliott said.

"So, if there was a breach in [ANZ Wealth], we would name [group executive, Wealth Australia] Alexis [George]," he said.

However, it could take more than five days to "get to the bottom" of what had caused the breach, Mr Elliott said.

"So it would be a preliminary report – and we're happy to do that. Given that it's preliminary it's very difficult at that time to be able to articulate clearly what the consequences are. So we're not shying away from it, we're just saying at that time it's very difficult to know," he said.

ANZ's formal response to the committee said the bank believes the "proposal to increase the level of public disclosure when things go wrong can largely be implemented".

"However, we think connecting individual accountability with breach reporting needs more consideration," the statement said.

Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer is set to appear before the committee in Canberra this morning, followed by outgoing Australian Bankers' Association chief executive Steven Münchenberg. 

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