July 1, 2019 / 12:36 AM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 1-Australia's Suncorp to defend lawsuit against pension unit

(Adds details about lawsuit, background on inquiry)

July 1 (Reuters) - Australian insurer Suncorp Group Ltd said on Monday it would defend a class-action lawsuit filed in the New South Wales Supreme Court against its unit managing superannuation funds, alleging improper charging of fees.

The suit is one of at least 11 lawsuits that have been filed against major financial firms since a public inquiry uncovered widespread misconduct including alleged overcharging of fees.

Law firm William Roberts Lawyers and Litigation Capital Management Ltd filed the suit on behalf of members of Suncorp Super Funds against Suncorp Portfolio Services, a Suncorp spokeswoman said.

It alleges Suncorp Super “executed agreements to entrench fees that would otherwise have become unlawful or unenforceable”. The law firm declined to comment further.

“We have formed the view that, since 1 July 2013, Suncorp Super members have been wrongfully stripped of hard-earned monies used for the payment of commissions and other fees to financial advisers. Those monies should now be repaid,” a statement issued by the law firm on May 31 said.

Australian financial institutions are facing severe pressure in the aftermath of the Royal Commission inquiry, which recommended tighter regulatory oversight.

Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney and Stephen Coates

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