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Comm Bank charged dead clients for advice

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Some Commonwealth Bank advisers charged dead clients for financial advice, in one case for a decade, the banking royal commission has heard.

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A 2015 document for CBA’s Count Financial business shows examples of advisers charging ongoing service fees after clients had died.

One adviser knew a client had died in 2004, but the adviser service fees were still being charged a decade later, the document shows.

“When asked, he said he didn’t know what to do and he had tried to contact the public trustee and had not heard back,” the document noted.

The adviser was getting about $65 a month in fees in 2014 and 2015.

Another customer of a different adviser died in 2007 and contact was made with the client’s wife in 2013 but no action was taken, the banking royal commission heard today.

The commission also heard another CBA advice business, Commonwealth Financial Planning, had complaints from customers about fees for no service for six years before the bank made a formal notification about the problem to the corporate regulator in 2014.

Meanwhile, the Turnbull Government says it would be open to extending the banking royal commission if it is requested by the man overseeing the inquiry.

The commission this week has heard what senior ministers are describing as “disturbing” revelations, including that AMP had been charging clients for advice they never received and then repeatedly lied to the corporate watchdog.

“If the royal commissioner (Justice Kenneth Hayne) says to us that there is more work to be done, that he needs more time, then obviously the government would act on that,” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told 2GB radio on Thursday.

Under the existing timeline, the commission is due to provide a final report by February 2019.

Treasurer Scott Morrison warned behaviour such as AMP’s could attract penalties including jail time.

In a statement ASIC said ‘fees for no service’ and false or misleading statements had been part of its investigation into AMP, during which it had received many thousands of documents, and resulted in 18 examinations of the company’s staff.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce admitted he was wrong to argue against a royal commission.

“What I have heard is (sic) so far is beyond disturbing,” he tweeted.

– AAP

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