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Fair Finance Watch is a Non-Governmental Organization Focused on the Fairness of the Financial Services Industries - Banking, Insurance and Securities - to Local Communities, Urban and Rural, North and (Global) South, including under Human Rights Laws

FFW researches, documents and advocates around financial firms' activities, and how they affect local communities. The profiles below are in-process -- For or with more information, contact us.

Oceania / Australia


Australia -- Banking and lending industries: how and by whom they are regulated, consumer protection and public participation issues, human rights tribunal(s)

Currently, merger of Australia's main in-country banks is prohibited, by the so-called “Four Pillars” ban.  The industry has been lobbying against this restriction, and meanwhile global competitors like HSBC and GE have moved in, including with offers of subprime loans.  “GE Capital has the biggest non-bank branch network in the country after it purchased the Australian Financial Investments Group. It includes the Wizard Home Loans brand and a 230-branch network.” (Asian Banker Journal, Nov. 15, 2004). Other U.S.-based banks which are authorized deposit-takers and/or operate licensed branches in Australia include Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America, along with the ubiquitous HSBCRoyal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, BNP, ING, Deutsche Bank, Mizuho and others (see lists, below).   The volume of mergers and acquisitions in the highest in Asia: “Australia was the most active country with an M&A volume of $73.3 billion, followed by Singapore ($17.7 billion) and China and Hong Kong ($8.3 billion). Morgan Stanley said that Korea was the fifth most active M&A market in the Asia Pacific region so far this year with a deal volume of $7.4 billion.” (Korea Times, October 13, 2004).

  Regulation: Recent inquiries have found that while the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) “regulates misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to a financial service or product which does include credit facilities... the Department of Fair Trading administer the Consumer Credit Code in relation to the conduct of the credit facilities.”

  This has been clarified, in the following recent response, from infoline [at]

Dear Mr. Lee,

Thank you for your email. In reference to your first question relating to what agency covers consumer protection for lending; ASIC regulates misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to a financial service or product which does include credit facilities. However the Department of Fair Trading administer the Consumer Credit Code in relation to the conduct of the credit facilities. In reference to your second question relating to bank mergers and/ or expansion applications; ASIC regulates company takeovers under the Corporations Act. Banking and Deposit Taking Institutions are regulated by APRA. The ACCC would also play a role in the competition issues relating to the merger.

Yours sincerely, Kylie Hughes, CLIENT CONTACT CENTRE

Accordingly, while ASIC reviews proposed mergers (including public comments thereon), the consumer protection function as to LENDING (but not only product offerings) is vested in another agency, the Department of Fair Trading, which is at

  A commenter may wish to comment to both agencies simultaneously. 

FOIA: Documents can be requested from here from ASIC under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act:

Regulatory contact: ASIC: banking, securities and insurance regulator (business conduct)

Australian Securities and Investment Commission
Level 18, 135 King Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia
Tel: + (613) 9 911 2000
Fax + (613) 9 280 3385

Established 1998. Total staff of 1152 (with 658 in supervision). Annual budget: US $77 million.

“The ASIC supervised market behavior and the selling of financial products by banks, securities, intermediaries and insurance companies. (Prudential supervision in the responsibility of the APRA, the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority, additional contact information below). The ASIC is an independent statutory authority that administers and enforces laws relating to the formation and administration of companies, take-overs, securities and futures. Additionally, the ASIC is responsible for consumer protection issues” (as is the Australian Financial Institutions Commission (AFIC), Level 17, 300 Queen Street, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 4000)

 And see,;

To serve legal documents (this formality generally not necessary for commenting) -

Some recent history: Released in April 1997, the Final Report of the Financial System Inquiry (the Wallis inquiry) proposed wide-ranging reforms to the structure of financial regulation in Australia. The government accepted these proposals in September 1997 and undertook an extensive legislative program to give them substantive effect by July 1, 1998. Under the new framework, an integrated prudential supervisor, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), was established to take over responsibility for prudential regulation of banks, previously held by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)... The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has assumed responsibility for market integrity and consumer protection across the financial system.”

Consumer issues can also be directed to the Complaints Management Program, on (02) 9911 2624, or directly to emma.heathcote [at] 

And see, Consumer rights in banking, credit unions and building societies (online publication)

ASIC consumer protection / license check:
Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority, Level 26, 400 George Street, Sydney, NWS 2000, Australia

List of authorized deposit-takers in Australia, from

Australian-owned Banks

Adelaide Bank Limited
AMP Bank Limited
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited
Bank of Queensland Limited
Bendigo Bank Limited
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia Limited (a subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia)
Elders Rural Bank Limited
Macquarie Bank Limited
Members Equity Pty Limited
National Australia Bank Limited
St George Bank Limited
Suncorp-Metway Limited
Westpac Banking Corporation

Foreign Subsidiary Banks

Arab Bank Australia Limited
Bank of Cyprus Australia Pty Limited
BankWest (the trading name of Bank of Western Australia Limited, a foreign subsidiary bank following its sale to Bank of Scotland in December 1995)
Citibank Pty Limited (a subsidiary of Citibank N.A.)
HSBC Bank Australia Limited
ING Bank (Australia) Limited
Investec Bank (Australia) Limited
Laiki Bank (Australia) Limited
NM Rothschild & Sons (Australia) Limited
Rabobank Australia Limited (a subsidiary of Rabobank Nederland from October 1994)

Branches of Foreign Banks

Bank of America, National Association
Bank of China (subject to depositor protection provisions of the Banking Act 1959)
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Ltd
Bank One, National Association (acquired 2004 by J.P. Morgan Chase)
Barclays Capital (the trading name of Barclays Bank plc)
BNP Paribas
Citibank N.A.
Credit Suisse First Boston
Deutsche Bank AG
HSBC Bank plc
JPMorgan Chase Bank
Mizuho Corporate Bank, Ltd
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited
Rabobank Nederland (the trading name of Co-operative Central Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A.)
Royal Bank of Canada
Société Générale
Standard Chartered Bank
State Bank of India
State Street Bank and Trust Company
The International Commercial Bank of China
The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc
The Toronto-Dominion Bank
Taiwan Business Bank
United Overseas Bank Limited

Building Societies: ABS Building Society Ltd; B & E Ltd; Greater Building Society Ltd; Heritage Building Society Limited; Home Building Society Ltd; Hume Building Society Ltd; IMB Ltd; Lifeplan Australia Building Society Limited; Mackay Permanent Building Society Ltd; Maitland Mutual Building Society Limited
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Ltd; Pioneer Permanent Building Society Limited; The Rock Building Society Limited; Wide Bay Australia Ltd

[Reportedly, "the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority began requiring bank branch distribution data from all authorized deposit-taking institutions in 2002. The publicly available data updated annually and lists the type of branch, the services provided, and whether or not the branch serves a rural or metropolitan area." See, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. 2003. Points of Presence: Summary of Channels Offering a Branch Level of Service. Sydney: Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. See also, Financial Services Consumer Policy Centre,,, and esp.]

Banking law: see,

Australian Press Council - Freedom of the Press resources

Human rights:  Australian - Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; and see

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         FFW researches, documents and advocates around financial firms' activities, and how they affect local communities. FFW files its findings with tribunals, regulatory agencies, and elsewhere, including on this Web site . Click here to view analyses of several multinational financial institutions' effects on consumers and the environment, worldwide: for two examples, Citigroup and HSBC. Click here for some initial brainstorming on the application of human rights and international law to the global financial services companies, and for citations (where possible, links) to resource material.  Click here for some September 2004 campaigns -- PNC/Riggs (Finance Watch Reports of August 16, 2004, onwards), J.P. Morgan Chase, etc..  Click here for an ongoing report on the campaign to reform anti-money laundering, tax haven, and bank secrecy laws.   Click here for the Human Rights Enforcement project, including its new (9/04) criminal justice and local human rights project. For or with more information, contact us.

For More information, see:
Human Rights & Finance: Predatory Lending in a Deregulated Network Economy

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