IF A HEALTHY banking system is dull, then Australia’s must be sick to the core. A royal commission with a broad remit to investigate abuses by the country’s financial institutions that opened a year ago has set off fireworks. Hearings revealed that for years banks had hidden fees, swindled money for absent services and docked charges from the dead. Financial advisers earned bonuses for channelling clients’ cash towards underperforming funds. Insurance companies flogged junk schemes to the poor or mentally disabled.

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