The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), the consolidated complaints body borne out of the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and the Credits and Investments Ombudsman, has been given new investigative powers.
From July 1, Australian consumers and small businesses will now be able to lodge complaints with AFCA concerning financial misconduct dating back to 1 January 2008. If they intend to lodge a complaint, though, AFCA has a 12-month window to accept and investigate it.
Commenting on the change, AFCA chief ombudsman and chief executive David Locke said: “AFCA’s ability to consider legacy complaints dating back to 2008 provides people with the opportunity to now have their matters independently reviewed.”
“We have identified thousands of complaints that could potentially be made to AFCA,” he continued, “based on those that were lodged but deemed outside the jurisdiction of previous schemes.”
Locke added that there will likely be other matters AFCA can now investigate that were never reported to any previous financial conduct body, and that he expects they will be “highly complex, and further complicated by the number of years that have passed since the issue occurred.”
He concluded by saying he hoped financial firms will “proactively resolve these legacy matters themselves where possible, as part of their commitment to justly remediate the misconduct of the past and meet the community’s expectations of fairness.”
AFCA was created with the goal of being a “world-class ombudsman service” which would raise standards and minimise disputes, meet “diverse community needs” and be “trusted by all.”
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