ANZ staff outraged at boss's expenses, says union

Former ANZ chief executive David Hisco. - Photo: Photosport

ANZ staff are said to be outraged by their chief executive's luxury lifestyle while they've struggled for a pay rise.

ANZ New Zealand chief executive David Hisco has left the bank after after a review, which found he had been been passing off personal expenses as business ones.

ANZ New Zealand chairman Sir John Key said it related to tens of thousands of dollars during Mr Hisco's nine years in the job for chauffeur-driven cars and the cost of storing his wine collection in Australia.

The former chief executive insisted he had a verbal agreement to do this and Sir John said he took him at his word.

But he said the problem for Mr Hisco and the bank was that he didn't accurately record the expenses.

"There was either no transparency, they were bulked up, or they were characterised as business when they were clearly of a private nature," Sir John said.

First Union general secretary Dennis Maga said Mr Hisco's actions were especially galling when members worried about staffing levels and pay were told the bank was trying to cut costs.

"Some of our members were really outraged because of that lavish lifestyle that he had," said Mr Maga. "I think that actually warrants his dismissal."

He said tellers were paid $40,000-70,000 on average, compared with Mr Hisco who was being paid $3.8 million and would get a final payout of $2m.

"That is an unfair treatment... where a CEO is receiving a special treatment from the company compared to an employee of the bank who can be disciplined or can be dismissed if ever they committed the same mistake."

Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson said the bank's customers were likely to take a dim view of the expenses, given they were the ones ultimately paying for them.

"It indicates there was some sort of culture of excess going on, that a chief executive thought that this is what he should be entitled to as well as a very generous salary - that other expenses such as this should be covered as well."

Ms Wilson said consumers were rightly asking questions about the banking industry's bumper profits, why charges were so high and, now, whether that was going into banking products, or luxury pastimes.

This would do little for their trust in banks, for which ANZ ranks among the worst, she said.

"Banks have been keen to reassure consumers that they've got our best interests at heart, that they're responsible, and there's no need for any stronger regulation. But when you see stories like this come out it really does call into question those assurances."

Institute of Directors general manager of the governance leadership centre Felicity Caird said organisations must have clear rules for reasonable expenses, rather than what Sir John described as an oral agreement between Mr Hisco and a former chief executive.

"Personal expenses are personal expenses and should be paid for personally, and business expenses are business expenses. So if somebody were to characterise a known personal expense as a business expense, that would be inappropriate," Ms Caird said.

It was up to the board to make sure the chief executive's expenses were closely and regularly scrutinised, Ms Caird said, and ANZ did the right thing launching a review three months ago.