World News – AU – Westpac has been fined the biggest in Australian company history


Westpac has reached a deal with AUSTRAC to settle more than 23 million alleged violations of anti-money laundering laws by paying a record amount of $ 1 3 billion in penalties

The sanction is the largest in Australian business history and is almost double the record fine of $ 700 million paid by the Commonwealth Bank for nearly 54,000 money laundering offenses, revealed by the ‘ABC in 2017

In a statement, Australia’s anti-money laundering and financial crime monitoring agency AUSTRAC said Westpac admitted to violating anti-money laundering and terrorist financing law more than 23 million times

These violations included failure to properly report more than 195 million international money transfer instructions (IFTIs) for more than $ 11 billion

AUSTRAC said violations included suspicious transactions associated with possible child exploitation as well as failure to assess money laundering and terrorist financing risks

« Our role is to strengthen the financial system against serious crime and the financing of terrorism and this sanction reflects the serious and systemic nature of Westpac’s non-compliance, » said AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose, in a press release

« Westpac’s inability to implement effective transaction monitoring programs, and its inability to submit IFTI reports to AUSTRAC and to apply increased customer due diligence with respect to suspicious transactions, meant that AUSTRAC and law enforcement lacked essential intelligence to support police investigations « 

Westpac has failed to submit millions of reports detailing international remittances, many of which appear to be for illegal purposes

« We are committed to fixing issues so these errors do not happen again. This has been my number one priority, » he said

« This is a very important sanction, and it reflects the importance of the infractions here, » he told ABC Radio Melbourne

« Westpac is obviously taking action to prevent this from happening again, but it is also a message to all other financial institutions that AUSTRAC will take action if necessary to ensure the law is followed »

Shadow Home Secretary Kristina Keneally called Westpac’s announcement « extraordinary » and the bank’s lack of proper financial oversight as a « massive failure »

« What is extremely distressing is the extent to which some of this money laundering appears to have been linked to the sexual exploitation of children, » said Senator Keneally

Settlement with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) comes after intense legal negotiations with the financial crime agency in recent weeks

Westpac had previously set aside $ 900 million for a penalty after signaling its intention to accept most of AUSTRAC’s charges

The scandal, which erupted at the end of 2019, forced the resignation of Brian Hartzer, then CEO of Westpac, and the retirement of Lindsay Maxsted, along with other changes to the board of administration and management

However, consumer group Choice said the lack of legal sanctions against Westpac senior management and directors shows that the personal liability of executives is still lacking, as shareholders will foot the bill for the sanction.

« This underlines the importance for the federal government to meet its commitment to adopt the Fiscal Accountability Regime (FAR), » Choice CEO Alan Kirkland said in a statement

« If designed correctly, FAR will be a game-changer for corporate culture in Australia’s financial services industry Individual leaders won’t be able to hide behind large corporate payments

« This new regime will ensure that executives and senior executives of large financial institutions face heavy civil penalties, disqualification or deferred bonuses for breaking the law »

This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and BBC World Service which is copyrighted and may not be reproduced

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Westpac, Australian Center for Transaction Reporting and Analysis, Money Laundering, Finance

News from around the world – AU – Westpac has been fined biggest in history of the Australian company



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