Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Australia's third-biggest lender by market value, has been sued by customers seeking to recoup about $48 million in fees, reports Bloomberg News.

IMF Australia Ltd., the country's biggest litigation funder, said Wednesday that the class action was filed in federal court in Melbourne on behalf of 27,000 of the bank's customers.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers will ask the court to place the lawsuit on its "fast track" list, IMF said.

ANZ is the first of 12 banks IMF plans to sue to recoup as much as $4.8 billion that Australian account holders paid in fees in the past six years, James Middleweek, managing director at IMF's Financial Redress Pty unit, said in May.

So far customers holding 213,000 accounts with claims exceeding $238 million have registered to sue, IMF said.

ANZ, of Melbourne, said it plans to defend the legality of the fees.

"We recognized that these fees were unpopular," Philip Chronican, the banking company's chief executive officer, said in a press release. "It's a big leap however for a fee to go from being unpopular to being unlawful."

The fees include charges for insufficient funds, overdrawn bank or credit card accounts and late credit card payments, according to the Australian Bankers' Association website.

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