Westpac Readies Settlement With AUSTRAC Over AML Breaches

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

A massive fine and other penalties are reportedly due to be levied again Westpac shortly in connection with its millions of breaches of money laundering laws.

Media reports Wednesday night said the fines will come as part of a settlement between the bank and the financial intelligence group, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) over the money laundering claims, some of which involve to payments related to child abuse in the Philippines.

The reports say the bank’s board held a conference call on Wednesday to discuss a settlement with AUSTRAC after negotiations saw issues and the size of the fines narrowed.

Some reports claim the fine and other penalties could be between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

Westpac set aside $900 million in April to pay the fine.

That amount includes an additional $160 million to improve its financial crimes detection procedures and donations to child exploitation agencies.

That could see Westpac fined more than twice the $700 million the Commonwealth Bank was fined by AUSTRAC over its money laundering claims.

A deal is said to be close with a press conference to be called in the next day or so.

Westpac shares rose 2.1% in yesterday’s buoyant market, to close at 416.39. That was a rare recent gain – the rise cut to fall in the past five sessions to 2.2% and the loss year to date to just over 30%.

The money laundering claims from AUSTRAC have already seen a cleanout of the bank’s management and board with the CEO and chair going, other managers replaced and directors going.

Westpac yesterday announced the appointment of Michael Hawker as a director. He is a former Macquarie director (his departure was announced on Monday), IAG CEO, and Westpac executive.

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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