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Response to recent media stories on farmers in financial difficulty

May 11, 2015

Recent media stories (in the Good Weekend and on 60 Minutes) on farmers in financial difficulty featured the cases of three Rabobank customers.

While we are restricted in what we can say about individual customers (without their consent being given), we can advise that the bank has acted fairly and reasonably at all times in these matters.

In the case of Mr and Mrs Fielding, the following response was provided to the 60 Minutes program –

Without a specific consent, the bank is limited in what it can say about the customers concerned. A consent has been sought from the customers, but at the time of writing, has not been obtained.

However, we can confirm that:
  • Mr and Mrs Fielding have been customers of Rabobank Australia since 2008 and the bank has worked closely with them for the past several years during difficult times to try to assist them. 
  • Rabobank does not take recovery action with a customer, except as a matter of last resort. 
  • Rabobank customers have no restrictions placed on them if they wish to refinance. 
  • Last month, Rabobank requested the receivers to take no further action in relation to the Fielding matter, pending a decision being made by the Financial Ombudsman Service in relation to a complaint made by the Fieldings. 

In the case of Mount Morris (Mr and Mrs Stuart) –

Rabobank has requested consent on numerous occasions from the Stuarts, including for the Good Weekend article, to allow us to explain our position and have a fair public right of reply to their claims. This has not been granted.

As a result of this restriction, we are only able to address the Stuarts’ claims in a general sense.

Mr and Mrs Stuart have been customers with the bank since 2004 and we worked patiently and supportively with them for more than four years as they attempted to resolve their financial difficulties. This included engagement through mediation.

It is only when all reasonable avenues to reach a mutually agreeable solution have been exhausted that the bank moves to recovery action.


In the case of Mr Cartwright –

Rabobank does not have a consent from Mr Cartwright to explain our position in a public right of reply. As a result, we are only able to address Mr Cartwright’s claims in a general sense.

The bank has worked with Mr Cartwright for the past three years as he has attempted to improve his business situation following the impact of flooding in 2012.

Rabobank has at all times acted appropriately and fairly in dealing with Mr Cartwright and his family.


 

In general terms of the bank’s practice –

Rabobank is a specialist in food and agricultural banking, which, as a global cooperative, has been providing banking to farmers for more than 115 years. As such, it is our primary goal to help our customers prosper long term.

In the unfortunate – and thankfully rare – instances when customers are in financial difficulty, we work with them, often over many years, to explore every opportunity to try to resolve their financial situation. Action which we frequently agree to take to assist customers in financial difficulty includes periods of reduced or no interest payments and postponement of other payments due. Moving to receivership is an absolute last resort, after every other reasonable option has been exhausted.

In times of adversity where there are circumstances outside farmers’ control – such as the current drought conditions in Queensland and northern New South Wales – it is Rabobank’s set practice to stand by our customers and provide long-term support measures.

The effectiveness of these measures is demonstrated by the fact that the vast majority of the bank’s farming customers throughout Australia operate strong and successful businesses.



Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is a part of the international Rabobank Group, the world's leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 115 years' experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 41 countries, servicing the needs of approximately 10 million clients worldwide through a network of more than 1600 offices and branches. Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is one of Australasia's leading rural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the region's food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 94 branches throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Media contacts:
Denise Shaw
Media Relations
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: 02 8115 2744 or 0439 603 525 
Email: denise.shaw@rabobank.com