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PM dishes a light bank-bashing in response to ANZ claims

PM dishes a light bank-bashing in response to ANZ claims

By Pattrick Smellie

July 1 (BusinessDesk) - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took an opportunity to show how low the ANZ Bank's stocks have fallen with the government, turning a question about the bank's fears about the impact on the economy of Reserve Bank capital-holding rules into a comment on its wider woes.

Asked whether she was concerned that ANZ modelling showed lower economic growth if trading banks were forced to hold substantially more capital on their balance sheets, Ardern noted that she had "heard some of the rhetoric coming out of the ANZ."

"And at the moment you'll be aware, of course, the Reserve Bank is doing some work with ANZ in a number of other areas.".

"I say that just for context," she said, referring to ANZ's failure over six years to notice it wasn't using a central bank-approved model for calculating its current capital-holding requirement and the sudden departure of its former New Zealand chief executive, David Hisco, over some of his $450,000 of office expenses the board was not properly aware of. Media reports since have raised questions about the sale of a home in the up-market Auckland suburb of St Heliers by the bank to Mr Hisco's wife.

Ardern declined to comment on the ANZ's analysis, saying the Reserve Bank was running the consultation on capital adequacy levels and that it would be "premature to make any statements on relative impact on that at this point".

Defending the government's decision not to hold a commission of inquiry into bank behaviour, given a welter of concerns across the sector brought to light in part by a joint RBNZ/Financial Markets Authority inquiry into banks' and insurers' culture and conduct, Ardern said the government was "constantly reminding them they have social licence they have to maintain here. They are answerable to the New Zealand public."

"In recent times, it's really been brought into question. They're the ones that need to restore that faith and we want to make sure that there's faith in our institutions," she said.

She continued to question whether a commission of inquiry could achieve anything the government was not already pursuing to improve bank and insurance companies' behaviour.

(BusinessDesk)

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