Owner/builder Peter Comino (left) and Paul Mills discuss the construction of the CBD Executive Apartments in 2008.
Owner/builder Peter Comino (left) and Paul Mills discuss the construction of the CBD Executive Apartments in 2008. TAMARA MACKENZIE.

Banking misconduct: 'avalanche of claims' to come

PETER Comino believes the banking royal commission has only revealed the tip of the iceberg when it comes to misconduct in the financial services industry.

The Rockhampton businessman said the terms of reference, set by the banks, have limited the commission's ability to expose the root cause of years of financial misconduct.

Earlier this month, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry released its interim findings.

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne has found greed and the "pursuit of profit" is one of the key drivers behind deceptive and unconscionable conduct in what was a desperate time for many affected.

Mr Comino is among the more than 9400 people who have made submissions to the inquiry detailing dodgy conduct by financial institutions.

However, only 27 people have been invited to the commission to give evidence on their experiences.

Mr Comino claims he was forced into bankruptcy by ANZ in 2011 and lost the $14 million property portfolio he had spent years building on the back of forced sales of his assets. He reported these concerns to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) multiple times, but was told they could not act.

Since sharing the details of his "financial homicide" with The Morning Bulletin in June, Mr Comino has been vocal in calling for extensions to the inquiries terms of reference to take in receivers and other entities acting on behalf of banks, including valuers and receivers. "There is a very good chance that there is maybe an avalanche of claims you would consider a 'conspiracy to injure'," Mr Comino said.

Under civil law, this is an economic tort where people can use lawful or unlawful means to injure claimants.

Mr Comino said ANZ claims during the royal commission that they underestimated the number of struggling loans they would acquire when buying Landmark in 2010 were "bullsh**t".

READ: Five worst revelations from the Banking Royal Commission

"There are statue laws requiring prudential lending and also responsible lending," he said. "There are also statue laws that are existing under the corporations act in relation to false and misleading conduct and unconscionable conduct, transparency, risk, full product disclosure, and so much more.

"The Labor Party and the Liberal party have been well aware of certain events within our market over the ten years.

"The question must be raised as to how and why all of our four major banks have been able to record such record-breaking profits in the last 10 years.

"It would appear to me that the Royal Commission has been deliberately delayed in order to exhaust the statute of limitations by the Turnbull and now Morrison governments."

Mr Comino said bank bonuses should be abolished, with a genuine conflict of interest arising when lenders are rewarded for promoting certain products.

"These banks are actually responsible and privy to how banking products are underwritten," he said.

"They are well aware of the undertakings however they are not conveying those particular risks or the ongoing or trailing commissions and rewards to the financial institution.

"Rate rigging, collateralised debt obligations, and credit default swaps are not new to the CEOs, ASIC or Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and yet they are turning a blind eye to the banks' complicit behaviours."

Despite Mr Comino's experience as a developer, he said it was impossible for him (or any other borrower) to make informed decisions on financial risk when information was withheld by banks, especially when those banks have been found to have rigged rates.

The next round of hearings, focused on public policy in the wake of revelations, begins on November 19.

The Labor Party are lobbying for the commission to be extended, including visits to regional areas for personal testimonies to be delivered.

An ANZ spokesman previously told The Morning Bulletin the bank did not comment on specifics of individual customers' banking details.

"ANZ does not believe it has a case to answer in this matter and totally rejects the customer's allegations," he said.

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