ANZ reallocated at least $7.5 million worth of loans from the Junee branch to Wagga more than a year ago, according to former Junee deputy mayor and local accountant Norm Bray.
The Broadway Street branch is now set to close on November 9 after ANZ CEO Shayne Elliot told Junee Shire Council that a lack of local support had forced the bank’s hand.
It comes just one year after ANZ management congratulated the Junee branch in writing for being the fifth-best performing branch in the region.
An ANZ spokesperson has denied that any lending customers had their account relocated from Junee to Wagga.
“Our agribusiness and small business customers in Junee, including all lending, are managed by specialists based in Wagga who visit customers directly at their farms and businesses,” the spokesperson said.
Mr Bray, who said the evidence supporting his claim was both extensive and categorical, has since referred the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
“A lot of us see the bank closure as a foregone conclusion, but my ultimate aim is to ensure that these large corporate entities are held accountable,” he said.
“Even the parliamentary inquiry didn't really do that.
“They seem to operate on their own rules.”
The former deputy mayor said his ombudsman referral was also aimed to benefit future towns at risk of facing closures without warning.
“They should have to follow a procedure when it comes to notifying small communities that they intend to close a branch and the reasons behind it, instead of just walking straight in and closing the door.”
Mr Bray hopes to hear from the Financial Ombudsman Service by October 24.
Meanwhile, Junee council general manager James Davis has been in discussions with Bendigo Bank in the hope of expanding the bank’s affiliated local agency to fill the void left by ANZ.
“They’ve indicated a willingness to talk with businesses in town about their requirements,” Mr Davis said.