Duncan Garner: ANZ expenses debacle warrants independent investigation

Opinion 18/06/2019

The expenses debacle engulfing departing ANZ CEO David Hisco warrants further investigation.

This is not to suggest he's done anything else wrong - but banking is big business and all those who bank with ANZ, and who contributed to their almost $2 billion profit last year, deserve to know what's been going on.

I think this requires a proper external audit.

Hisco's personal use of chauffeur-driven cars and wine storage - using the bank's money - has cost him his high-flying job.

But this wasn't really about how much of the company's money Hisco spent. It was about how it was recorded, and it stretches back nine years.

Hisco probably thought, 'well it's been happening for this long, it must be ok'.

So are ANZ's systems so weak that his expenses weren't checked for nine years?

Or were they checked and given the all clear - and, if so, doesn't he have a case to stick around, and a case for huge reputational damage?

Now to the transparency.

ANZ said a number of weeks ago that Hisco was taking some time off due to health reasons and bank chairman Sir John Key assures us they are genuine, but it looks a bit cosy - Hisco is on sick leave during an investigation and doesn't return.

Now all the banks were put on notice in November last year by the Reserve Bank after regulators found 'significant weaknesses' in the way they govern and manage risks.

So how does ANZ look now?

It's all about perception - you need to be seen to be above the fray.

Well, John Key sold his beach house to Hisco in February this year. Chairman sells house to CEO, was that all done correctly? Key says of course.

ANZ Australia investigates Hisco, Hisco goes on sick leave about the same time - all in-house.

ANZ's New Zealand board makes the final decision, all done behind closed doors.

Given the outcome and the claims, for the sake of transparency, surely an independent investigator or regulator should run their eyes over this?

If I was on $3 million I'd pay my own wine storage costs - which would be zip, given the number of mates who come through my house mugging me blind most weeks.

Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show.