NAB CEO and chairman first bank casualties of Hayne Royal Commission

NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn Ken Henry chief executive officer Hayne Royal Commission
The first casualties from the Royal Commission into Australia's banking sector are NAB chairman Ken Henry and CEO Andrew Thorburn.

The Hayne Royal Commission has claimed its first banking scalps with the departure of National Australia bank chairman Ken Henry and chief executive officer Andrew Thorburn.

Both have resigned after being singled out for heavy direct criticism in the Royal Commission’s final report on Monday which said neither bank leader had learned the lessons from past misconduct.

Further pressure was added following continuing reports of a luxury rorts scheme being operated out of Mr Thorburn’s office but without his knowledge and a record-breaking shareholder revolt against the bank’s executive pay report.

Both sorry for failing to meet expectations

Both Dr Henry and Mr Thorburn said they were “deeply sorry” over the bank’s failure to live up to customer and community expectations, after its wealth division charged $100 million in fees to customers without providing financial advice.

Dr Henry – a former head of Treasury – was also widely panned for his evidence given to the Commission, which at one stage included the words: “I’ve answered the question the way I choose to answer the question.”

Dr Henry admitted that he had not performed well in the Commission and now understood the criticism, which included claims he was defensive and contemptuous.

However, he said he thought the main reason for the criticism of him by the Royal Commission was not related to his evidence.

“I really should have performed quite differently. I should have been much more open,” Dr Henry said in an ABC television interview.

Phil Chronican acting CEO

NAB (ASX: NAB) board member and experienced banker Phil Chronican has been appointed as acting chief executive officer from next month with Mr Thorburn leaving at the end of February.

While they are the first banking departures since the Royal Commission, AMP chief executive officer Craig Meller, chairman Catherine Brenner and group legal counsel Brian Salter all left the insurance and fund management giant during the Royal Commission.

That followed evidence that AMP had consistently lied to ASIC about how it was dealing with its fees for no service scandal.

ASIC is believed to still be investigating the AMP situation and charges could be laid in the future.

After the Royal Commission, ASIC is also investigating multiple banks and wealth management companies to see if further action is warranted.

John is a highly experienced business journalist and formerly chief business writer for the Herald Sun. He has covered Federal politics in Canberra, was Los Angeles Bureau chief for News Limited and was also chief of staff for the Herald Sun. He has covered a wide range of small and large cap ASX stocks and has a special interest in mining, technology and biotech.