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CommInsure set for sentencing after guilty plea

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CommInsure will be sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty in a Sydney court last week to 87 counts of hawking.

The charges, which carry a combined maximum penalty of more than $1.8 million, relate to sales of the Simple Life product by telemarketing firm Aegon Insights Australia.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) says CommInsure provided customer contact details to Aegon from parent company Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) existing customer database.

“The CBA customers had not requested to be contacted for the sale of Simple Life by CommInsure, or persons on CommInsure’s behalf, or to receive marketing information,” ASIC says.

The regulator says the insurer failed in all 87 calls to give customers the option of having product disclosure statement (PDS) information read to them, while further documentation disclosure failings were reported in 14 of the calls.

The bank-owned insurer has also agreed to refund more than $12 million to about 30,000 customers who were incorrectly sold a range of life products by Aegon from 2010-2014.

“ASIC is concerned that the way in which these products were sold was manifestly unfair, with customers given insufficient information to make an informed decision,” Deputy Chairman Daniel Crennan said.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a statement its subsidiary had reported the alleged contraventions of the anti-hawking laws to ASIC and the telephone sales practices related to Simple Life insurance had ceased at the end of 2014.