The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is the largest bank in Australia and it is now in the midst of a maelstrom of controversy around the loss of millions of peoples' personal financial data.
It said in a statement published on its website: "Commonwealth Bank today confirmed that there was no evidence of customer information being compromised or suspicious activity following an incident in 2016".
In a statement - the bank says an independent investigation determined the information was most likely destroyed. They were scheduled for destruction, but at the time the bank was unable to confirm this had occurred. Teams retraced the route of a bank subcontractor's vehicle to look for the backup drives but couldn't find any trace of them, BuzzFeed reported.
And last month, a royal commission inquiry investigating the financial sector rebuked the bank's wealth management arm for charging thousands of customers fees for services it did not provide.
The tapes contained customer names, addresses, account numbers and transaction details from 19.8 million accounts spanning 2000 to early 2016.
The Commonwealth Bank's acting head of retail, Angus Sullivan, defended the decision not to tell customers in an interview with the ABC's AM program.
The bank let the Australian information commissioner's office (OAIC) know of the breach after it became aware in 2016, but the OAIC said it would be examining the incident further following the release of a report from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) into the bank's culture on 30 April this year. "We also put in place heightened monitoring of customer accounts to ensure no data comprise had occurred", Sullivan said.
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They did not contain passwords, PINs or other data which could be used to enable account fraud, CBA said in a statement on Wednesday night. Ongoing monitoring of accounts by CBA confirms customers do not need to take any action.
The statements did include customer names, addresses, account numbers and transaction history.
"But we also need to recognise that based on CBA's statements, it seems highly likely the data never fell into malicious hands and whilst it's natural for people to feel that their privacy has been violated, it seems highly unlikely any unauthorised party saw the data and that it will result in any tangible loss or impact on them".
However the OAIC is now making further inquiries, following a report by the banking regulator that slammed the bank for its "widespread sense of complacency", BuzzFeed reported.
The banking regulator said on Tuesday that community trust in Australia's banks had been "badly eroded" after CBA had failed to meet expectations and "fallen from grace".
Mr Brody said the breach had made it all the more concerning banks that proposed laws would soon see banks forced to participate in a new credit reporting regime.