Westpac Has Been Fined A Whopping $1.3 Billion For Money Laundering Breaches
Australian bank Westpac has been ordered to pay a $1.3 billion fine for money laundering breaches.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) found Westpac had breached anti-money laundering rules 23 million times.
These transactions amounted to a whopping $11 billion, and some of the money sent is believed to be associated with child exploitation, money laundering and terrorism financing.
The fine is the largest single payout in Australian corporate history, epically outdoing the previous record set by Commonwealth Bank's $700 million in 2017 for similar charges.
The fine still has to be approved by the Federal Court before it's official.
Westpac has released a statement, with chief executive Peter King apologising for the breaches: "We are committed to fixing the issues to ensure that these mistakes do not happen again. This has been my number one priority.
"We have also closed down relevant products and reported all relevant historical transactions."
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According to the ABC, Westpac had set aside $900 million to pay whatever fine would be dished out, but will have to dig a little deeper into its pockets now that AUSTRAC has handed down its findings.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said while the amount seems high, it's appropriate to match the fine with the seriousness of charges.
"While noting the penalty is still subject to the Federal Court's approval, this should serve as a wake-up call to all financial institutions operating in Australia that the Government is serious about maintaining a strong financial system and won't tolerate serious non-compliance," he said.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton added: "Banks have a responsibility to not let criminal activity go undetected and to protect Australians from serious and organised crime like child exploitation, drug trafficking and fraud."
"They should be able to trust their banks and financial services they use daily to have strong systems in place to protect the community from crime. In this case, Westpac breached that trust and let their customers down, ultimately putting Australians at risk."
The money laundering scandal erupted last year and led to the resignation of now former chief executive Brian Hartzer and the retirement of chairman Lindsay Maxsted.
The investigation also caused several changes to the Westpac board and executive.
Featured Image Credit: Westpac