The heads that have rolled so far in Australia's bank probe
SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) – Andrew Thorburn, who resigned on Thursday (Feb 7) as the chief executive officer of National Australia Bank, is the latest in a succession of heads to roll amid scandals unearthed by the year-long inquiry into misconduct in the nation’s financial industry.
Thorburn’s departure comes just days after he was sharply criticized by the Royal Commission, which questioned whether he was capable of leading the lender’s response to the wrongdoing. Chairman Ken Henry, who also received a withering critique of his performance, will leave once a new CEO has been found.
The commission has cut a swathe through some of the nation’s biggest financial firms. Here are some of the other casualties:
AMP CEO CRAIG MELLER, CHAIRMAN CATHERINE BRENNER
Meller was the first to go, resigning in April after the 170-year-old wealth manager admitted it deliberately misled the regulator over charging customers for services they didn’t receive.
Brenner followed 10 days later, along with general counsel Brian Salter. Completing the boardroom clean out, three directors quit the following month.
NAB HEAD OF CONSUMER BANKING ANDREW HAGGER
Hagger was ousted in an executive reshuffle in September following a grueling appearance at the Royal Commission, where he was grilled over his communications with the regulator on the bank’s fees-for-no-service scandal. The inquiry heard NAB tried to downplay the extent of the problems to avoid a regulatory report overshadowing its earnings announcement.
Once considered a candidate to be the bank’s next CEO, Hagger has landed on his feet. Last month, mining billionaire Andrew Forrest appointed him to run his family’s charitable and commercial operations.
IOOF CEO CHRIS KELAHER, CHAIRMAN GEORGE VENARDOS
Kelaher and Venardos stepped aside from wealth manager IOOF Ltd in December after the prudential regulator took court action to disqualify them and three other executives for allegedly failing to act in the best interests of superannuation members. The move came after the inquiry heard pension fund members had been treated poorly, fiduciary duties had been breached and board minutes handwritten on scraps of paper. Kelaher and Venardos will defend themselves against the regulator’s actions.
FREEDOM INSURANCE CEO CRAIG ORTON
Orton quit the insurance minnow in November, having earlier told the commission about the firm’s tactics of cold-calling people to sell life insurance, including to a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome, and using aggressive tactics to persuade customers not to cancel policies. Commissioner Kenneth Hayne concluded such behavior was “unconscionable conduct.”
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