8 Oct 2015

Many accept cash settlement for interest swaps

11:34 am on 8 October 2015

The Commerce Commission says 97 percent of farmers have accepted cash settlement offers from their banks after they were burned by interest rate swaps.

Interest rate swaps are like a fixed rate loan, designed to protect customers from rising interest rates, but the opposite happened when the rates fell and left many farmers facing either exorbitant rate hikes or break fees.

The commission investigated ANZ, ASB and Westpac banks over their marketing, promotion and sale of the loans to farmers between 2005 and 2012.

In December last year, the commission said it intended to issue legal proceedings against the three banks, but it decided instead to settle with them for more than $25.5 million, saying farmers would otherwise have faced lengthy and uncertain court proceedings.

It said nearly $20 million had been paid to those farmers who accepted the cash offers. Another $165,000 went to 14 rural support trusts and the Dairy Women's Network received $250,000.

The commission said a small group of people declined the offer or did not respond, and it was now up to them as to whether they took further legal action.

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