ANZ boss recorded personal chauffeur as business expense - Sir John Key

The chief executive of ANZ has stepped down after being caught recording personal expenses as business expenses.

David Hisco has been temporarily replaced by Antonia Watson, who had been filling in for him while was on sick leave.

In a statement, ANZ said its board had concerns "about the characterisation of certain transactions following an internal review of personal expenses".

"While Mr Hisco does not accept all of the concerns raised by the board, he accepts accountability given his leadership position and agrees the characterisation of the expenses falls short of the standards required."

ANZ New Zealand chair Sir John Key told media on Monday morning the money was spent on "long-term personal use of corporate chauffeur cars, as well as charging the company for storage without proper disclosures".

The total was in the "tens of thousands of dollars", Sir John said, but Hisco won't be required to pay it back.

"It looked like a business expense when it was a personal expense - but he was strongly of the view he was allowed to do that," the former Prime Minister explained.  

"David is adamant he had authority for the expenditure that was taken. If he did have that authority, it was oral in nature - so it's difficult to establish one way or the other."

David Hisco.
David Hisco. Photo credit: Getty

As part of their "mutual" parting, Sir John said Hisco will forfeit his rights to $6.4 million in equity, and was "disappointed David is leaving ANZ under such circumstances after such a long career".

"His departure demonstrates that when people do not do the right thing, we hold them to account - no matter their status or position in the organisation."

Acting chief executive Watson said it was a "day of shock and disappointment" for staff.

"David Hisco was well-liked as a leader, and in his nine years as CEO he's helped grow our bank to be a market leader.

Antonia Watson
Antonia Watson. Photo credit: Newshub.

"He's also been open-minded and modern. More than 40 percent of the management roles in the bank are now held by woman, and he's been behind the strong commitment ANZ has to promoting Maori, Pasifika and Asian cultures, and LGBTQI staff."

Like Sir John, Watson said the bank had standards that had to be met by all its employees.

"Regardless of who you are at ANZ, if you're a young teller on the first day of your job or a CEO of 39 years' experience, the standards are the same."

ANZ said it has advised the Reserve Bank and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority of the changes.

Sir John Key.
Sir John Key. Photo credit: Newshub.

Hisco went on sick leave at the end of May.

"David has told me he's keen to get back to work as soon as possible but realises how important his health is," Watson said in a note to staff, NZME reported at the time.

There was no public indication then of the board's concerns about his expenses.

"We are fortunate to have an experienced executive in Antonia Watson... to step in while we conduct a search for a replacement," Sir John said on Monday.

Hisco was paid $3.76 million last year, NZME reported.