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talks dividend review@
* New provision for refunds to hit earnings by A$325 mln
* Total customer-remediation provisions stand at A$1.2 bln
* Bank says board to review dividend policy (Adds analyst comments, share prices)
SYDNEY, April 18 (Reuters) - National Australia Bank Ltd , the country's fourth-largest, on Thursday flagged an additional A$749 million ($537.18 million) in charges to refund thousands of wronged customers and said it would review its dividend policy.
Melbourne-based NAB said it has now put aside A$1.10 billion to compensate customers as it speeds up efforts to regain public trust after a damaging misconduct inquiry in the sector.
The inquiry has put banks and investment firms under pressure to clean up processes that led to customers being automatically billed for wealth management advice they did not receive.
NAB was singled out by the inquiry for an apparent unwillingness by its executives to accept responsibility for past wrongs, which resulted in the resignation of its CEO and chairman.
NAB's extra provisions will result in a A$325 million hit to cash earnings for the first half of this year, which the lender is due to release on May. 2.
The bank also said that "as is the usual practice", its board would review the bank's dividend settings, a comment analysts believe increases the chances the lender could lower its dividend payout.
"We believe this statement supports our view that NAB's dividend will be cut next month," Azib Khan, a banking analyst at stockbroker Morgans said.
Under pressure from regulators and lawmakers, all the major banks have increased material provisions related to efforts to remediate customers for banking misconduct.
NAB shares were largely unchanged on Thursday morning following the announcement, in line with the broader market.
"We are putting things right where we have treated our customers poorly and making sure that they are compensated more quickly," NAB's Chief Executive Officer, Philip Chronican said in a statement.
Chronican said there were currently around 350 employees dedicated to remediating customers, and that is expected to rise to around 500.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in March rebuked the banks for delays in fixing internal systems that resulted in customers paying fees for services they had not received.
Australia's Westpac Banking Corp in March warned that its first-half cash earnings would fall about A$260 million on account of provisions for customer refunds, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia announced similar refund provisions last year.
($1 = 1.3943 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney. Additional reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru. Editing by Michael Perry)