Owner/builder Peter Comino (left) at the CBD Executive Apartments development in Bolsover Street.
Owner/builder Peter Comino (left) at the CBD Executive Apartments development in Bolsover Street. TAMARA MACKENZIE.

Rocky businessman says banking misconduct reaches wider

HE MAY not have been asked to testify at the Banking Royal Commission but Rockhampton businessman Peter Comino still feels some sense of vindication following the findings of systematic misconduct in the financial sector.

However, Mr Comino believes there has not been enough investigation into bank guarantees and systems which allowed the institutions to rig rates and set customers up for failure.

Mr Comino was building the CBD Executive Apartments on Bolsover St in 2010 with plans to capitalise on Rockhampton's thriving accommodation and food scene.

But he claims he was systemically forced into bankruptcy while the building was still in final stages of construction, losing over $14 million as the bank quickly sold off his property portfolio.

Mr Comino also lost his professional real estate and building licences, and consulting positions with major national and international companies.

He has lodged multiple complaints with financial services watchdog ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investment Commission) but said they ignored the claims he made against ANZ.

READ: Why the royal commission isn't looking deep enough

Banking royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC was scathing in his criticism of the banking and finance sector, referring 24 matters, including all the major banks except Westpac, to ASIC and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority for further investigation.

However, Mr Comino is not confident this will achieve much given his own experiences with the regulators and Mr Hayne's repeated criticisms of the regulatory authorities.

He said ASIC was really "a sick joke” and had ignored issues which have since been highlighted as systemic misconduct through the Royal Commission.

This has been highlighted in the Royal Commission findings, with the regulator on warning from Mr Hayne that there is room to make it solely an investigative body and give prosecuting powers to someone else.

Mr Comino also hopes to continue highlighting concerning conduct of ANZ, including a clause of a guarantee he was asked to sign by the bank.

This Individual Guarantee and Indemnity for individuals included a clause relating to information disclosure.

READ: Banking misconduct: an 'avalanche of claims' yet to come

Part of this clause stated: "ANZ does not have to tell me if anything happens in relation to the Guaranteed Money or the Guaranteed Arrangements or any security or rights. It is my responsibility to find out”.

Following this clause (13 of the guarantee) is the statement "Subject to what appears above, this applies both before and after I sign this Guarantee”.

The guarantee ANZ asked Peter Comino to sign.
The guarantee ANZ asked Peter Comino to sign. Contributed

Mr Comino still cannot understand how a clause could apply prior to signing a contract, but said he was forced to sign the document in a failed bid to save some of his portfolio.

Mr Comino is also concerned about the lack of risk information given by the bank prior to his taking out a loan.

The guarantee ANZ asked Peter Comino to sign.
The guarantee ANZ asked Peter Comino to sign. Contributed

He said ANZ did not accurately advise the risk or disclosure of certain banking tools they would be using with the loan when he applied for it in 2007.

It was these banking products, including credit default swaps, which he claims the bank manipulated to their advantage.

Although the royal commission has finished, Mr Comino said there was still many stories of deception to uncover, and many elements of the industry which needed attention.

When asked again about Mr Comino's concerns, an ANZ spokesperson said the bank did not comment on individual customers or their banking details.

However, the spokesperson said ANZ "does not believe it has a case to answer in this matter and totally rejects the customer's allegations”.

ASIC was approached on Friday for comment about Mr Comino's allegations that it had ignored his claims. It had not provided a response of any substance as of 11am Sunday.