The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) hit Commonwealth Bank of Australia with 87 charges over the scandal involving its former insurance company CommInsure.

Australia's financial watchdog alleges that in between October and December 2014 CommInsure took data from CBA's existing customer database and provided it to telemarketing firm Aegon Insights Australia, to cold-call customers and try to sell them a life insurance policy known as Simple Life.  ASIC stresses these were unsolicited, and violated the Corporations Act.  

"People are being cold-called by companies seeking to force the sale of products which are complex, unsuitable, or even worthless," said Gerard Brody, chief executive of the Consumer Action Law Centre to the Guardian newspaper.  "Cold-calling is a lazy cash cow for the insurance industry and vulnerable Australians are often the primary target of these unscrupulous practices.  It's unethical, it's wrong and it needs to stop urgently."

CBA is in the process of selling CommInsure to global group AIA, but that's not expected to be completed until next year; it could be held responsible because this all happened during the time the bank owned the insurance company.

CBA responded to the charges in a release sent to the Australian Securities Exchange:  "CBA and CommInsure are considering the matter, and CBA does not intend to comment further at this time."