The record fine is by far and away the biggest penalty ever seen in Australian corporate history. In fact, it is almost double the previous high of $700 million, which was handed out to Commonwealth Bank back in 2017 when they were fined $700 million for money laundering breaches.
The Australian financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC, said that breaches included transactions of more than $11 billion and also cases in which Westpac allowed paedophiles to use its services to conduct their business.
AUSTRAC CEO, Nicole Rose PSM, said: “Our role is to harden the financial system against serious crime and terrorism financing and this penalty reflects the serious and systemic nature of Westpac’s non-compliance.
“We have been, and will continue to work collaboratively with Westpac and all businesses we regulate to support them to meet their compliance and reporting obligations to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future,” she said.
It is a dark day for one of Australia’s ‘Big Four’ banks, with Westpac CEO, Peter King, apologising on behalf of the company and saying that its money laundering monitoring would be improved.
We are committed to fixing the issues to ensure that these mistakes do not happen again.Westpac CEO – Peter King
“This has been my number one priority. We have also closed down relevant products and reported all relevant historical transactions,” said Mr King.