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Australia opens national inquiry into finance sector

AFP  |  Sydney 

opened a long-awaited inquiry into its today after a string of scandals rocked confidence in the sector.

The country's "big four" banks -- among the developed world's wealthiest -- have been under increasing scrutiny in recent years amid allegations of dodgy financial and life advice, and mortgage fraud.

There have also been claims of anti-money laundering laws being breached and benchmark interest rates rigged.

had long resisted Labor opposition calls for a into misconduct, claiming it would be a waste of money, but mounting political pressure forced his hand.

With uncertainty over the issue hurting offshore investor confidence, he announced the inquiry late last year to probe "the nation's banks, big and small, wealth managers, superannuation providers, companies".

said the hearings may be uncomfortable.

"It's important that it (the inquiry) gets to the matters that have disturbed the public," she told radio.

"I do expect this will be painful for banks and their staff."

The into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has the power to summon witnesses and take evidence.

While it can authorise police to apply for search warrants and witnesses who fail to appear may be arrested, it is not able to order compensation to those affected by any wrongdoings.

It can, however, make recommendations for the government to consider, such as changing regulations governing the sector.

Kenneth Hayne, a former judge, has 12 months to conduct his investigation and lodge a report with

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 12 2018. 08:10 IST