[21 May/NZ Herald]

Controversy over how New Zealand lenders sold a complicated financial product to farms have resurfaced during a bad time for the reputation of the Australasian banking sector. It was revealed that former Dargaville farmer, Renie Gibson, is suing Westpac after she lost her farm during the financial crisis. The action remains live.  Ms Gibson has alleged that Westpac representatives misled her into financing the purchase of the farm with an interest rate swap.  After the Commerce Commission announced that it intended to file legal action against some of the banks in relation to miss selling of swap instruments, some of the main commercial banks spent over $24 million in settlements to rural customers. A handful of farmers like Ms Gibson did not accept settlement payments and pursued the banks themselves through the courts. Westpac Bank’s Chief Executive, David McLean, said he wasn’t worried and believed everything was being handled responsibly. He added that the swaps issue showed local banks were not above reproach.