Reuters

(Reuters) - Australia's Westpac Banking Corp <WBC.AX> said on Thursday it will pay refunds to about 200,000 customers who should have received cash benefits, as the country's lenders seek to ease concerns about their governance after a series of scandals.

 

Westpac said it would pay the customers about A$65 million ($51 million) in total, resulting in an after-tax charge of A$45 million ($35.3 million).

 

The customers were supposed to receive cash payments for holding multiple "packaged" accounts since 2010 but did not get the money, Australia's No. 2 lender said.

 

"Some customers did not receive discounts on ancillary products such as home and contents insurance and term deposits," Westpac said in a statement issued to the Australian Securities Exchange.

 

"The packages have since been simplified and all benefits are now automated."

The government has increased scrutiny of the banks after a number of scandals shook public confidence in the sector, including alleged breaches of money-laundering laws by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia <CBA.AX>.

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has rejected opposition calls for a powerful judicial enquiry into the financial sector, saying existing laws and self-regulation are enough to improve the banks' governance standards.

Westpac shares closed up 0.5 percent on Thursday, in a flat overall market.

(Reporting by Rushil Dutta in BENGALURU; Editing by Byron Kaye and Stephen Coates)