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Australia CBA insurance arm pleads guilty to cold-calling offences


(Reuters) - The life insurance arm of Commonwealth Bank of Australia pleaded guilty to 87 counts of breaching a law banning sales staff from making unsolicited calls to sell financial products, the country's corporate regulator said on Tuesday.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) had charged the CommInsure unit of CBA, the nation's biggest lender, of breaking an "anti-hawking" law in October, accusing it of selling life insurance policies known as 'Simple Life' over unsolicited phone calls between October and December 2014.

ASIC said that CommInsure sold life insurance policies through a telemarketing firm, Aegon Insights Australia, by providing customer contact details to Aegon from CBA's existing customer database.

It said the matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and that CommInsure will be sentenced at a later time.

CBA acknowledged in a statement that CommInsure had pleaded guilty to the 87 alleged breaches and added that penalties would be determined on Nov. 28.

Australia's "Big Four" banks have come under increased regulatory scrutiny after a powerful government-backed inquiry last year exposed widespread misconduct in the financial sector.

(Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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