NAB chief, chair ousted after trading halt

NATIONAL Australia Bank has ousted both its chief Andrew Thorburn and chair Ken Henry after the damning bank royal commission final report.

The bank has released a statement saying they had advised they would leave the bank.

"The NAB Board will initiate a global search process for the CEO role while actively considering a range of quality internal candidates," the statement said.

Mr Thorburn will finish at NAB on February 28.

Dr Henry said he would retire from the board once a new permanent CEO had been appointed.

Senior banker Philip Chronican, a current NAB director, will serve as acting chief from March 1.

"It has been an honour to be the CEO of NAB, and to have been part of NAB since 2005," Mr Thorburn said in a statement.

"I have had a number of conversations with the chairman this week. I acknowledge that the bank has sustained damage as a result of its past practices and comments in the Royal Commission's final report about them."

NAB chief Andrew Thorburn. Picture: Stuart McEvoy
NAB chief Andrew Thorburn. Picture: Stuart McEvoy

"As CEO, I understand accountability. I have always sought to act in the best interests of the bank and customers and I know that I have always acted with integrity. However, I recognise there is a desire for change. As a result, I spoke with the board and offered to step down as CEO, and they have accepted my offer."

"I look forward to spending time with my wife, our family and friends, and reflecting on the many things I am grateful for, before I embark on a new adventure."

Dr Henry said he and the board had recognised that change was necessary.

"The timing of my departure will minimise disruption for customers, employees and shareholders," he said.

"This is naturally a difficult decision but I believe the board should have the opportunity to appoint a new Chair for the next period as NAB seeks to reset its culture and ensure all decisions are made on behalf of customers.

At 3.35pm today shares in under-siege lender NAB were put in a trading halt as the lending giant prepares to announce "leadership changes".

ABC national news program 7.30 was this afternoon tweeting that Dr Henry would be appearing on the show.

NAB chairman Ken Henry. Picture: AAP
NAB chairman Ken Henry. Picture: AAP

The royal commission final report was released on Monday night; since then, there has been furious market speculation that the bank bosses could not last.

In his scathing comments, Commissioner Kenneth Hayne said NAB "stands apart from the other three major banks" and singled out criticism for Mr Thorburn and the chair Ken Henry.

"I am not as confident as I would wish to be that the lessons of the past have been learned," Mr Hayne said of NAB.

"More particularly, I was not persuaded that NAB is willing to accept the necessary responsibility for deciding, for itself, what is the right thing to do, and then having its staff act accordingly."

"I thought it telling that Dr Henry seemed unwilling to accept any criticism of how the board had dealt with some issues."

"I thought it telling that Mr Thorburn treated all issues of fees for no service as nothing more than carelessness combined with system deficiencies when the total amount to be repaid by NAB and (superannuation trustee) NULIS on this account is likely to be more than $100 million."

Some of the worst controversies of the commission were linked to NAB.

This included charging fees to dead people, and rogue National Australia Bank staff in Western Sydney falsifying documents to secure mortgages for customers in return for cash bribes paid across the counter.

NAB has already set aside $314 to cover remediation costs to pay back customers for charging them fees but not providing a service.

The bank could also face civil or criminal charges after the commission referred some of its scandals to regulators for further investigation.

It is also not known if NAB is one of the unnamed lenders who Mr Hayne recommended to the corporate cop for possible criminal charges.

Also last year, it was revealed his former chief of staff Rosemary Rogers was embroiled in a fraud investigation.

The Herald Sun is not suggesting she was involved in any wrongdoing, only that there is an investigation.

This is the third loss of a senior executive since the commission kicked off in December, 2017.

Earlier this week, Mr Thorburn and Dr Henry fought to maintain their power, releasing a statement defending themselves in the wake of the report.

Mr Thorburn on Tuesday told the Herald Sun that he had the support of the board.

"I don't feel that I have any less support and commitment today from our leaders and our people than I had six or 9 or 12 months ago," he said.

A shareholder revolt in December saw NAB whacked with an unprecedented 88.11 per cent vote against its remuneration report during the bank's annual meeting.

Major investors spoken to by the Herald Sun were angry with both the bosses hanging on after the damning report.