The banking regulator, APRA continues to get tougher with banks and other financial groups it supervises. Yesterday it issued what amounts to a very expensive traffic fine for Westpac.
Last year it imposed a $1 billion capital fine on the Commonwealth Bank over the AUSTRAC money laundering scandal and last month it imposed similar fines of half a billion dollars each on Westpac, NAB, and ANZ following a host of problems revealed at the banks by the Hayne Royal Commission.
Yesterday APRA took a smaller, but still noticeable big stick to Westpac, fining it more than $1.5 million over multiple failures to file required returns and documents with the regulator earlier this year.
APRA said yesterday afternoon that it had served infringement notices on Westpac and two of its subsidiaries for failing to meet their legal obligations to report data to APRA.
“Westpac, along with two of its registered financial corporations (RFCs), St George Finance Holdings Limited and Capital Finance Australia Limited, breached the requirements of the Financial Sector (Collection of Data) Act 2001 (FSCODA) by failing to report data by the required deadlines. Westpac was up to 20 days late in filing its reports for the month ending 31 March 2019 under the Economic and Financial Statistics program, which were due on 1 May. The two RFCs missed the same deadline by up to 37 days,” APRA revealed.
“The RFCs were also up to 28 days late in submitting their reports for the month ending 30 April 2019. Additionally, all three Westpac entities were between 9 and 28 days late in filing their reports for the quarter ending 31 March 2019, which were due on 10 May 2019.”
APRA said that failure to submit monthly or quarterly returns within the timeframes specified by APRA’s reporting standards is a strict liability offence.
APRA said that after it sent show-cause notices to the Westpac entities on July 22 seeking their responses to APRA’s intention to serve them with infringement notices over the breaches it decided to issue the infringement notices “After assessing Westpac’s responses.”
“Under the terms of the infringement notices, APRA requires the Westpac entities to pay a cumulative penalty of $1,501,500. This is the maximum financial penalty APRA can issue for infringement notices under FSCODA.
APRA Deputy Chair John Lonsdale said APRA’s reporting standards were legally binding in the same way as its prudential standards.
“Access to accurate and timely data is critical for APRA to monitor effectively the safety and stability of the banking, insurance and superannuation sectors.”
“By issuing these infringement notices, APRA wants to send a strong message to industry that compliance with our reporting standards is mandatory, and cannot be considered secondary to other business priorities,” Mr. Lonsdale said.
The Westpac entities have until September 6 to pay the fines imposed by the infringement notices.
Westpac shares fell 0.04% to $28.02.