CBA sacks home lending specialist for dishonesty

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CBA sacks home lending specialist for dishonesty

A CBA home lending specialist was justifiably dismissed for a raft of dishonest business practices, the Fair Work Commission has ruled.

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A CBA home lending specialist was justifiably dismissed for a raft of dishonest business practices, the Fair Work Commission has ruled.

It found the worker had made a 'serious error of judgment' in his dealings with an 'anxious' customer.

Background


Saurabh Malhotra was employed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia from November 2009 until September 2018.

In July 2018 he was assisting a customer to re-finance a home loan. The transaction involved the establishment of an offset account.

It was alleged that during this process:
  1. Mr Malhotra was unable to locate the hard copy of the customer's loan documentation and 'pre-emptively' opened a 'smart access' account in the customer's name without her consent.
  2. He created a false entry in the customer's Commsee profile.
  3. He then provided the customer with dishonest information regarding fraudulent activity on her accounts.
  4. He requested the customer transfer $560K from her offset account to the smart access account. This enabled the employee to manipulate his sales targets and gain recognition for a higher home loan funding amount.
In mid July the employee returned to India to be with his ill mother, who died several days later.

He returned to work on August 13 and several days later the allegations were put to him at a meeting.

Following that meeting, the allegations were put to him in writing and he responded to them.

An ensuing investigation found the allegations to be substantiated and he was dismissed at a meeting on September 3.

A report noted mitigating circumstances in relation to the illness of the employee's mother at the time of the incidents.

Arguments


Mr Malhotra argued that opening the account was an 'oversight' and that he had merely been trying to help the customer.

He said he 'pre-emptively' created the entry in Commsee as the appointment with the customer was scheduled for late in the day and he didn't think he would have time to make the entry after the customer left.

Mr Malhotra told the commission he had only said there 'may' be fraudulent concerns on the customer's account, and his request to transfer money between accounts was unrelated to achieving sales targets.

Commissioner Bissett rejected his arguments, finding all the allegations were substantiated and this represented a valid reason for dismissal.

She also found the dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

"Whilst the financial sector has been in the spotlight of late I do not consider that this had any negative bearing on the approach of the respondent... with respect to the conduct of the applicant. The applicant held a position of trust. Whilst I accept that he may have been distracted by his mother's illness, this is no excuse for his conduct..."

The commissioner said Mr Malhotra made a serious error of judgment when he discovered the missing loan documents and did not report it to his manager. This was then compounded by his actions and comments to the customer, which then resulted in inflated sales figures.

"Whilst I do not know that he set out to manipulate his sales figures... this is where he landed. There were a number of things he could have done to ensure manipulation of his sales figures did not occur... but he did not."

The unfair dismissal application was dismissed.

Read the decision


Saurabh Malhotra v Commonwealth Bank of Australia (U2018/9840) [2019] FWC 2202

 
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