The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that the National Australia Bank fired some financial planners because they gave bad advice.
One of those former planners, Graeme Cowper, sued the three news media outlets, claiming that their reporting defamed him. Cowper said the reporting claimed that he was fired in 2009, that he “ruthlessly exploited his clients for his own gain,” “misconducted himself,” gave bad advice and faked signatures.
But, just before he was set to take the stand, Cowper settled the lawsuit and said he would pay $200,000 of legal costs, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The Sydney Morning Herald‘s February 2015 story was headlined, “Whistleblower’s NAB leak reveals persistent bad behaviour in financial planning, fuels royal commission calls.” The newspaper reported that Cowper was one of 31 NAB financial planners or advisers no longer working at the company due to “conflicts of interest, inappropriate advice, inappropriate practices or serious repeat compliance breaches” and responded to media inquiries with legal threats denying he was fired. In a follow-up report, the Herald reported that “39 of the 700 former clients” he had “had been quietly compensated by the bank” and that he had been reported to the government’s financial services regulator.
iMediaEthics has written to lawyers for both sides for comment. Cowper’s lawyer declined to comment.