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Westpac agrees to record $920 million penalty for mass breaches of money laundering laws

Christian Fernsby ▼ | September 24, 2020
Westpac has agreed to pay a record fine for the nation’s biggest breach of anti-money laundering laws.
Record fine   Westpac
The case was brought by the government’s Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center, known as AUSTRAC.

Topics: Westpac

It said the penalty of $920 million sent a strong message to the financial industry to take compliance seriously.

Westpac was accused by government investigators of 23 million breaches of money laundering and counterterrorism financing laws.

Australia’s second-largest bank was found to have allowed transactions that were potentially linked to child exploitation in the Philippines and in other countries despite being specifically warned of the risks.

If approved by the federal court, the $920 million fine will be easily the biggest in Australian corporate history.

The bank had set aside $630 million to pay the penalty, but that figure was rejected as insufficient by the financial crimes watchdog.

AUSTRAC investigators said the bank’s noncompliance was “serious and systemic.”