RETAIL BANKING | Tony Chua, Australia

34,000 customers file $48.5mn class action suit vs. ANZ

The lender joins 11 others which could face similar suits regarding overcharging of fees.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) faced a A$50 million ($48.5 million) class action suit on Monday over claims that it charged its customers excessive fees, with another 11 other lenders at risk of similar suits.
Court hearings began on Monday and law firm Maurice Blackburn, which represents 34,000 ANZ customers, said it would seek to recover fees and protect customers against what it said were "exorbitant" fees and charges.

The case is being heard at the Federal court in Melbourne and could serve as a precedent in cases against other lenders.

An ANZ spokesman said the bank would vigorously defend the law suit and pointed out that this hearing was the first part of a complex case which would likely stretch into 2012.

The claimants are contending that banks in Australia had charged as much as A$1.2 billion a year in unfair "exception" fees while costs for banks were significantly lower.

Exception fees include charges for insufficient funds, overdrawn bank or credit card accounts and late credit card payments, according to the Australian Bankers' Association.

View the full story in Reuters.

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