November 29, 2018 / 4:55 AM / 15 days ago

The misconduct uncovered by Australia's year-long banking inquiry

SYDNEY (Reuters) - For nine months a quasi-judicial public inquiry into Australia’s financial system has heard allegations of bribery, fraud, board-level cover-up, abuse of power and the charging of fees for no service.

FILE PHOTO - A combination of photographs shows people using automated teller machines (ATMs) at Australia's "Big Four" banks - Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (bottom R), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (top R), National Australia Bank Ltd (bottom L) and Westpac Banking Corp (top L). REUTERS/Staff

As the inquiry nears its end, the following is a timeline of milestones since it was announced by Australia’s government in November 2017.

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Nov. 30, 2017 - After years resisting, the centre-right government bows to public pressure and calls for a Royal Commission into banks, investment funds, financial advisers and insurers.

Feb. 12, 2018 - Hearings begin. The lawyer leading the questioning, Rowena Orr, later gets the nickname #ShockandOrr on social media.

March 13 - National Australia Bank (NAB.AX) admits a referral programme to sell home loans involved collusion, fraud and bribes. The bank says bonuses encouraged staff to engage in fraud.

April 16 - Wealth manager AMP (AMP.AX) accused of board-level deception of the regulator over fees for no service. “This is shocking,” Australia’s treasurer says.

April 19 - Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA.AX) (CBA) says it withdrew money from dead people’s accounts as supposed advisory fees.

April 20 - AMP’s CEO steps down as shares tumble.

April 26 - Hearings are interrupted when a witness, the head of Dover Financial, Terry McMaster, collapses in the witness box. He is rushed off in a stretcher.

April 27 - Corporate regulator says it has not used its full punitive powers to tackle financial misconduct.

April 30 - AMP chair resigns. First shareholder class action lawsuit filed against AMP.

June 4 - Outside the inquiry, CBA agrees to a record A$700 million penalty to settle money-laundering charges dating back to 2017.

June 5 - Also outside the inquiry, prosecutors charge former local bosses of Citigroup Inc (C.N) and Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) with “criminal cartel offences” over a A$2.5 billion stock issue for ANZ, the country’s biggest case of alleged white-collar crime.

June 24 - National Australia Bank says it will stop penalising farmers for loan defaults in droughts amid a record dry spell in parts of the nation.

Sept. 11 - The inquiry hears how Freedom Insurance Group Ltd (FIG.AX) called a man with Down Syndrome and convinced him to buy an insurance policy although he did not understand what he was doing.

Sept. 21 - The inquiry hears some of the country’s largest insurers may have broken laws which carry criminal penalties.

Oct. 31 - Australia and New Zealand Banking Group reports second-half profit is down 13 percent due to the cost of compensating customers hurt by misconduct.

Nov. 28 - AMP gives an updated cost of paying back wronged customers: A$778 million.

Nov. 30 - Final hearing day.

Feb. 1, 2019 - Government to receive final report.

Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Byron Kaye and Stephen Coates

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