ASIC takes NAB to court over fees for no service

National Australia Bank (NAB) has been accused of misleading customers and breaching financial services laws, in a new lawsuit from the corporate watchdog that alleges it charged hundreds of thousands of superannuation members about A$100m for services that were not provided.

ASIC alleges NULIS and MLC Nominees – the current and former super trustee of NAB – misled members of MLC MasterKey Super products, with the regulator seeking declarations of contravention and a civil penalty.

It is the first court action launched by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission over the banking and wider financial industry charging fees for no service, compensation for which may end up exceeding $1bn.

ASIC wants the Federal Court to impose a civil penalty and declare that NAB’s superannuation trustees NULIS and MLC Nominees broke financial services laws.

The case centres on the trustees deducting about A$100m in plan service fees from the account balances of hundreds of thousands of members of MLC MasterKey Super products.

ASIC took the legal action despite NAB compensating customers.

NAB’s chief legal and commercial counsel Sharon Cook said the bank will carefully consider the allegations.

“We are acting to rebuild trust with our customers,” Cook said in a statement.

“Our announcement this week about removing grandfathered commissions from NAB Financial Planning and NAB Direct Advice, as well as accelerating repayments where fees have been wrongly charged, are more steps in this direction.”

The big four banks and AMP have been ASIC’s main focus over fees-for-no-service issues dating back to 2008, but smaller industry players have also wrongly charged customers.

Pedro Gonçalves
Pedro Gonçalves is Financial Correspondent at International Investment.

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