CBA cops $20m hit in bank bill swap rate case

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Commonwealth Bank has entered into a court-enforceable undertaking with ASIC, Australia’s financial services regulator.

The enforceable undertaking relates to Commonwealth Bank’s bank bill trading business and its participation in the setting of the bank bill swap rate (BBSW), a benchmark interest rate.

ASIC said that as part of the enforceable undertaking, Commonwealth Bank would:

  • Pay $15 million for the benefit of the community
  • Pay $5 million for ASIC’s investigation and legal costs
  • Engage an independent expert to assess changes Commonwealth Bank has made and will make regarding how employees trade in prime bank bills

Today’s announcement comes after the Federal Court’s decision, in June 2018, to impose pecuniary penalties of $5 million on Commonwealth Bank for attempting to engage in unconscionable conduct with the BBSW.

“CBA admitted to attempting to seek to affect where BBSW set on five occasions in the period 31 January 2012 to 15 June 2012,” according to ASIC.

“CBA also admitted that it failed to do all things necessary to ensure that they provided financial services honestly and fairly and that its traders were adequately trained.”

Click here for a copy of the enforceable undertaking.

ASIC v the big four banks

Here is a timeline of events involving ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac and their behaviour with the BBSW:

4 March 2016 – ASIC initiates Federal Court proceedings against ANZ.

5 April 2016 – ASIC initiates Federal Court proceedings against Westpac.

7 June 2016 – ASIC initiates Federal Court proceedings against NAB.

20 November 2017 – ASIC accepts enforceable undertakings from ANZ and NAB. Both banks promise to each pay $20 million for the benefit of the community and another $20 million for ASIC’s costs.

30 January 2018 – ASIC starts legal proceedings in the Federal Court against Commonwealth Bank.

24 May 2018 – The Federal Court finds that Westpac engaged in unconscionable conduct over its involvement in setting BBSW on four occasions.

11 July 2018 – ASIC accepts an enforceable undertaking from Commonwealth Bank.

12 October 2018 – Westpac will appear in court for a hearing on penalty and relief.


A property and personal finance writer, Nick Bendel covers property, loans, credit cards, superannuation, and other bank products. Nick has previously written for The Adviser, Mortgage Business, Lifehacker, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, and InvestorDaily, and loves getting elbow-deep in the latest ABS, APRA and RBA data.

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