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21-029MR Criminal charges laid against Allianz and AWP alleging the making of false statements
Allianz Australia Insurance Limited (Allianz) has been charged with seven counts, and AWP Australia Pty Ltd (AWP) with one count, of making false or misleading statements regarding the sale of Allianz domestic and international travel insurance products.
ASIC alleges that between 2016 and 2018, Allianz and AWP published information online, including on Allianz’s domestic, basic and comprehensive travel insurance web pages, that misrepresented the characteristics or level of coverage of travel insurance on sale to consumers.
In some instances, ASIC alleges that Allianz’s website advertised the maximum travel insurance benefits payable to customers, but failed to state that particular sub-limits, terms, conditions or exclusions could operate to limit those benefits.
The criminal charges allege that Allianz’s and AWP’s conduct contravened s 1041E of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). The maximum penalty for each of the charges is the greater of:
- if the court can determine the total value of the benefits that have been obtained and are reasonably attributable to the commission of the offence, three times that total value; or
- if the court cannot determine the total value of those benefits, 10% of the body corporate’s annual turnover during the 12-month period ending at the end of the month in which the body corporate committed, or began committing, the offence.
Allianz was the underwriter of the travel insurance products and AWP was a distributor of the products.
Both companies appeared today at the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney. The matter is listed for further mention on 20 April 2021.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting the matter after a referral from ASIC.
The conduct was referred to ASIC for investigation by the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (the Royal Commission) (Volume 2 Final Report, page 386).
ASIC has undertaken a range of regulatory responses to the conduct identified in the Royal Commission in addition to the criminal charges filed today. ASIC secured $10 million in customer remediation from Allianz and AWP for travel insurance potentially mis-sold to around 31,500 consumers through Allianz’s own website and those of its distribution partners, including Expedia (20-264MR).
On 30 September 2020, ASIC commenced separate civil proceedings in the Federal court action against Allianz and AWP for allegedly misleading consumers on Expedia travel websites (20-227MR).
Allianz and AWP’s customer remediation is not an admission by either Allianz or AWP that they have breached the law.
Allianz and AWP appeared at the Downing Centre Local Court on 20 April 2021 and the matter was further listed for 15 June 2021.