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November 20, 2019
Factbox: The Australian Financial Crime Regulator’s Accusations Against Westpac
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp (WBC.AX) has been accused of 23 million breaches of anti-money laundering law, with regulators saying the company enabled payments from convicted child sex offenders and “high risk” countries over half a decade.
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk past a branch of the Westpac Banking Corporation in central Sydney, Australia July 25, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo
Westpac says it self-reported the breaches and has shut down the mechanism used to allow the payments.
Here are the accusations made by the regulator, AUSTRAC, against Westpac, Australia’s second largest bank, in a civil court filing published on Wednesday:
– Failed to assess and monitor money laundering and terrorism financing risks associated with the banking services it provided to customers through other banks around the world.
– Failed to carry out appropriate due diligence on customers sending money to the Philippines and South East Asia for known child exploitation risks.
– Failed to report millions of international funds transfer instructions to AUSTRAC or to other banks
– Knew since 2013 of heightened child exploitation risks associated with frequent low value payments to the Philippines and South East Asia but only began monitoring in June 2018.
– Failed to do appropriate due diligence on 12 customers to identify, mitigate and manage known child exploitation risks despite repeated patterns of frequent low value transactions.
– Identified a suspicious payment from a customer convicted of child exploitation then failed to stop the customer sending payments to the Philippines.
– Hindered law enforcement efforts and deprived AUSTRAC and tax authorities of information relating to over A$11 billion in international payments for up to six years.
– Exposed the Australian payments system to “unacceptable and longstanding” money laundering and terrorism financing risks.
– Failed to check partner banks which had relationships with “high risk or sanctioned” countries including Iraq, Lebanon, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo.