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Regulatory Heat On Top Aussie Banks Intensifies With PM Inquiry

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is turning the heat up on major banks in the nation already grappling with increased pressure from regulators.

According to a report from Bloomberg Politics this week, Turnbull has launched a public inquiry into Australia’s financial services industry, marking what the news outlet said is the 52nd investigation into financial institutions (FIs) since the Australian financial crisis began.

The inquiry will look into a vast array of allegations of misconduct by major Australian banks, including interest rate-rigging, money laundering violations and mistreatment of small business (SMB) owners. The nation’s four biggest FIs, National Australia Bank, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Westpac Banking and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are all focuses of the investigation and have each faced their own allegations of misconduct in recent years.

The PM’s office published a news release Thursday (Nov. 30) that said Turnbull will establish a Royal Commission to examine these allegations.

“Ongoing speculation and fearmongering about a banking inquiry or Royal Commission is disruptive and risks undermining the reputation of Australia’s world-class financial system,” the release stated. “The government has decided to establish this Royal Commission to further ensure our financial system is working efficiently and effectively.”

PM Turnbull added that the inquiry will take “a conventional, focused approach.” The government added that it is working to establish a “one-stop shop” for consumers and SMB customers to file and resolve complaints.

The multitude of allegations of misconduct against the Australian banks include the mistreatment of small businesses, which has been the focus of the nation’s Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell in recent months. She recently said she is considering proposing the establishment of a state-backed bank to increase access to small business loans and heighten competition in the financial services sector.

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