It's time banks were held to account

WHAT banks did during the GFC has not been properly investigated, says Kathy Sundstrom
WHAT banks did during the GFC has not been properly investigated, says Kathy Sundstrom Warren Lynam

AROUND five years ago, a close friend sat at my kitchen table and cried as her husband was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy.

He had tried everything to salvage his successful business, but his bank was changing the terms of his lending.

Even though he had paid all his bills on time, they were now making the goal posts different. Unachievable.

He had worked hard, was extremely successful, had picked up some nice toys along the way and now he was virtually broke.

We sat there, she and I, and we cried together.

I cried for her pain and fear and suffering and my helplessness that nothing could be done to salvage the situation.

Miraculously, they managed to avoid bankruptcy but had to make severe cutbacks.

It took an incalculable toll on their finances, their health and their family life.

Yet I still thought it was isolated. They had made a mistake somewhere and the banks were not to blame.

Two years ago, I faced a similar situation with another close friend, this time around a table at a Coffee Club.

Her husband, who also had an extremely successful business making multi-million dollar profits each year, was also bankrupt.

Again, the banks had come in and changed the terms of the loan.

Not only did he lose his source of income, the 200 plus people he had been providing work for also lost theirs.

And where he had been considering an offer from someone to buy his business for around $13 million only a year earlier, that same business bought what he had established the receiver for only a couple of million a year later.

They are still recovery from the humiliation, the pain, the loss of a failure that was not of their own making.

The reaction to a story I wrote this week on how developer Scott Juniper lost everything four years ago sickened me.

Like my friends, Mr Juniper was running a successful business when the banks changed the loans and he faced $72 million debt.

To his credit, he has been able to come out of it.

Yet the comments on the story made fun of his heartache because he was rich and so was his dad.

I don't believe what the banks did during the GFC has been properly investigated.

I don't believe they have said sorry enough.

And I want to know what is being done to ensure when we act in good faith operating our business and taking calculated risks that banks do the same.

Topics:  banks gfc kathy sundstrom opinion column

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