Bank Misconduct Comes Under Scrutiny as Australia Inquiry Starts

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Australia’s banks, rocked by years of scandals and wrongdoing, risk having further misconduct exposed as a powerful government-appointed inquiry into the nation’s financial industry starts.

The yearlong Royal Commission will examine the nation’s banks, insurers, financial services providers and pension funds, and consider whether regulators have enough power to tackle misconduct. Kenneth Hayne, a former High Court judge appointed to run the inquiry, will make his opening statement in Melbourne Monday.

Anger over bank conduct has grown as evidence of wrongdoing mounts — from rigging interest rates and ripping off customers, to allegations Commonwealth Bank of Australia breached anti-money laundering and terrorism financing laws more than 50,000 times — even as lenders rack up record profits.

“There is an endless buffet of complaints that people can raise,” said Andrew Schmulow, a law lecturer at the University of Western Australia who argues the banking system has failed and needs radical reform.

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