Major Aussie bank slapped with 1.3 billion AUD fine for financial misconduct

ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID)
ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID)

One of Australia’s big four banks, Westpac has agreed to pay 1.3 billion Australian dollars (919 million U.S. dollars) for breaching money laundering and terrorism financing laws, the company revealed Thursday.

The penalty is the largest ever imposed on an Australian corporation and follows a lengthy inquiry into the country’s financial sector, which uncovered infringements by several major institutions.

Industry regulator, AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre), said in a statement that Westpac had admitted to have breached the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act).

According to AUSTRAC, among other offences, Westpac failed to properly report over 19.5 million international transactions amounting to 11 billion Australian dollars (7.7 billion U.S. dollars), including with “known higher risk jurisdictions”.

Through its non-compliance the bank left the system open to exploitation by criminals via money laundering, terrorism financing and child exploitation, AUSTRAC Chief Executive Officer Nicole Rose said.

Westpac Group CEO, Peter King apologized for the bank’s failings and said that the company was actively addressing the internal issues at play.

“We are committed to fixing the issues to ensure that these mistakes do not happen again,” he said.

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