March 18, 2018 / 11:57 PM / 4 months ago

Australia's CBA acknowledges it hurt customers as inquiry enters second week

* CBA says actions hurt customers in staff email

* Inquiry into Australia’s banking sector enters second week

SYDNEY, March 19 (Reuters) - Commonwealth Bank of Australia has acknowledged it treated customers unfairly as a powerful inquiry into the scandal-hit banking sector that has uncovered serious misconduct and fraud enters its second week.

Incoming CBA chief executive Matt Comyn said in an email to staff that the second week of hearings would feature instances “where customers have been treated unfairly”.

“In many cases, our actions have had a significant impact on the financial and emotional well-being of our customers,” Comyn said in an email sent to CBA employees late on Friday, and seen by Reuters.

“This is unacceptable.”

Comyn, who before being named as new CEO headed the bank’s retail unit, is taking over the chief executive role next month, replacing Ian Narev who has led the bank since December 2011.

Narev’s resignation came after years of scandals at Australia’s biggest bank, including thousands of alleged breaches of anti-money-laundering and terror financing rules.

“Where we have made mistakes we must and will take responsibility for them, we will make things right for our customers, and not repeat the same mistakes,” Comyn added in the letter.

The year-long inquiry last week heard CBA had failed to fix a flawed system of financial incentives paid to mortgage brokers, despite knowing it could hurt customers.

Its smaller rival, National Australia Bank Ltd, also conceded that its system of bonuses and incentives encouraged bankers to engage in fraudulent lending practices.

CBA has over 16 million customers, according to its annual report.

Last week, a barrister assisting the commission scolded CBA for providing “meaningless” spreadsheets instead of specific documentation of misconduct, as requested.

Comyn said the bank would resubmit its documentation as soon as possible. (Reporting by Paulina Duran in SYDNEY; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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