CAFCA extends support and solidarity to Frozen Funds Group


The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) fully supports the Frozen Funds Group in its campaign (which now includes pickets of ANZ branches) to get this Australian–owned bank to repay hapless small NZ investors whose money has been frozen due to the collapse of two investment funds run by its subsidiary ING NZ Ltd.

This was the main reason that ANZ was a finalist in the latest (2008) Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand. To quote from the Judges’ Report: “The key charge against ANZ-National in 2008 was its reckless promotion to its banking customers of two investment funds run by its subsidiary ING NZ Ltd, which were then frozen, imprisoning $520 million of small investors’ money. The bank ducked responsibility on all fronts – for giving shonky advice, for misrepresenting ING as ‘low risk’, for failing to bail out its subsidiary to avoid the need to freeze funds, and for continuing to collect advisor fees during the freeze. While keeping the funds frozen, ING then announced a profit of $36 million. As a comprehensive case study of the rapacity and unconscionable behaviour at the expense of ordinary investors that have brought the reputation of Wall Street and its local clones to a new low, the ING saga stacks up well. ANZ has also been a central player in the Opus Prime insolvency in Australia, where again small investors were fleeced while the bank initially concealed crucial information and then looked after itself when the crash came. Only after the Banking Ombudsman became involved did ANZ-National begin paying off a few individual victims caught in the ING affair, ‘on a goodwill basis’. ‘Goodwill’ in this context seems to mean good public relations rather than any real relief for the majority of burned investors”.

And CAFCA supports the campaign by Finsec, the bank worker’s union, to keep bank jobs in NZ. This applies to all four of the Australian-owned banks – ANZ, BNZ, Westpac and ASB - but once again ANZ has “distinguished” itself in this field. To quote, again, from the 2008 Roger Award Judges’ Report: “Buttressing the case against ANZ-National was evidence from Finsec that the bank’s management lied to staff and customers when it promised to increase branch staff numbers while outsourcing 500 back office jobs to India; the bank subsequently announced sweeping cuts in branch staffing. Only truly distinguished performances by two other contenders saved ANZ-National from the Roger this time around” (the Roger Award was won by British American Tobacco NZ Ltd, with Rio Tinto Aluminium NZ Ltd as runner-up).

NZ taxpayers are now the guarantors of the deposits of the banks. Yet we get no say in their running, let alone ownership. The Australian-owned banks go on their merry way piling up profits as if the crash has never happened, while at the same time turning off credit for their NZ customers, refusing to reimburse mum and dad investors whom they have bilked, laying off staff in their hundreds and outsourcing their jobs to Third World cheap labour. It’s time for the Government to remind the foreign banks of that old saying most favoured by moneymen: “He who pays the piper calls the tune”, and to translate that into action.

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