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Australian regulator slaps Bank of Queensland unit with criminal charges


(Reuters) - Australia’s securities regulator on Wednesday said it has pressed criminal charges against Bank of Queensland unit ME Bank, alleging that the digital lender made false representations about certain interest rates and repayments.

A total of 62 charges have been laid against ME Bank in the Federal Court of Australia after a referral from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) alleging misconduct occurred due to failures in ME Bank’s systems and processes.

ASIC said ME Bank made “false and misleading” representations about the relevant annual interest rates for customers and minimum repayment after the fixed-rate period or interest-only rate period expired.

The Brisbane-based regional bank acquired the digital lender in July to double the size of its retail arm. Before that, ME Bank was owned by 26 industry pension funds.

The Australian corporate watchdog said the matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and will next return to court on Nov. 3.

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