Bank pushing debt on refugees

Australian banks, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in particular, have been taking heat for predatory lending practices, after the screening of a Four Corners TV show exposé at the end of March.

Reporter Stephen Long said that eighteen cases of unaffordable loans to refugees had been confirmed but those working within the Sudanese community in Melbourne fear that the problem was more widespread. Four Corners said most did not speak English, had no concept of interest-bearing loans, and were unemployed.

Former National Australian Bank employee Kim White told the programme he was pressured into talking people into bigger loans than they wanted. “I up-sold someone to $80,000 on more than one occasion when they only came in for a $20,000 or $30,000 loan,” he said. “The pressure was sell them, sell them, if the system will let them do it sell them as much as you can possibly sell them.”

The Commonwealth Bank is now changing its lending policy and has waived most of the loans.

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