ANZ Distances Itself From AUSTRAC Scandal

A clever move by the ANZ Bank yesterday to differentiate itself from its three major rivals, all of whom are struggling with problems with AUSTRAC, the financial intelligence agency.

In a statement issued early in the day, the ANZ said that “Following shareholder queries, ANZ today provided an update on the actions it has taken to assist in the prevention of financial crime in the Australian banking system.”

ANZ also confirmed in the statement it is not aware of any impending litigation from AUSTRAC, but it is nevertheless checking its systems again.

Westpac, the Commonwealth, and the NAB have been entangled one way or another with the financial reporting agency – the CBA was fined $700 million over its 57,000 breaches and had an additional $1 billion capital overlay imposed on it. The NAB has self-reported and is waiting to hear AUSTRAC’s verdict, while Westpac’s problems continue to dominate market news and thinking.

ANZ Chief Risk Officer Kevin Corbally said: “Protecting the Australian banking system from criminal use is one of our most important roles and one all of our people are trained in and take incredibly seriously.

“ANZ has been working with AUSTRAC, law enforcement and the broader industry to detect, prevent and disrupt serious financial crimes. This includes money laundering, terrorism, human trafficking, tax evasion, and child exploitation.

“Given recent issues identified by AUSTRAC within the industry, we have been reviewing the systems and processes we use to transfer money to ensure we are reporting the information required by regulators.

“While the review is ongoing, it has found no material issues to date,” Mr. Corbally said.

ANZ said in the statement that in March 2017, it joined the Fintel Alliance, a public-private partnership led by AUSTRAC to combat serious financial crime, including child exploitation.

ANZ shares rose by just over 0.4% to $25.06 while Westpac shares eased 0.2% to end at $24.81, ending that brief one day rally on Tuesday.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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