Westpac scandal: Bombshell allegations that the bank is related to child exploitation in the Philippines
Westpac is faced with bombshell allegations related to child exploitation in the Philippines because watchdog AUSTRAC money laundering after the bank follows more than 23 million alleged breaches of the law.
AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose said the bank failed to conduct due diligence on risky transactions to the Philippines and Southeast Asia that entailed potential exploitation risks for children.
The dirty money watchdog claims nearly 3,000 transactions indicative of child exploitation payments – about $ 480,000 in total – were made by 12 Westpac customers.
Westpac & # 39; s CEO Brian Hartzer has refused to resign due to accusations from AUSTRAC that the bank has constantly violated money laundering and anti-terror laws
The bank could not have stopped one of their customers from making frequent, low-value payments to the Philippines, despite the fact that they were previously in prison for crimes related to child exploitation.
The activity was considered suspicious, but the customer would still be able to send around $ 2,600 through other accounts between about June 10 and August 19 this year.
Mrs Rose claims that Westpac has not kept the required data and has passed on information about the origin of international credit transfers.
& # 39; AUSTRAC claims that Westpac's oversight of its corresponding banking services was inadequate and that its anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing program also failed, & she said.
AUSTRAC has taken the bank to court for allegations that it has broken the laws more than 23 million times, which could cost $ 1 billion in fines.
The transactions amounted to more than $ 11 billion for almost five years.
On Wednesday afternoon in the media, Brian Hartzer, CEO of Westpac, said he would not resign and personally lead the bank's response to the crisis.
& # 39; I am determined to see through that and make sure we repair it properly and it will never happen again. We acknowledge that this is an important issue for the bank and accept that there will be consequences for Westpac, & he said, the Australian reported.
AUSTRAC has taken Westpac to court for allegations that the bank has broken the law more than 23 million times (stock image)
He became aware of the problems surrounding customer research a month ago, but only heard about the more detailed cases concerning child exploitation on Tuesday.
& # 39; I was completely shocked at what I was reading and I am absolutely determined to find out why on earth this could go on, & # 39; he said.
Hartzer pinned the failures to detect money laundering on an automated process that the bank set up in 2010.
& # 39; These problems should never have occurred and should have been identified and corrected earlier & # 39 ;, he said in a statement.
& # 39; It is disappointing that we have not met our own standards and the expectations and requirements of the regulations. & # 39;
National Australia Bank admitted last week that it will receive a huge fine for several possible anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering violations.
In a statement, Mr. Hartzer said: & # 39; These problems should never have occurred and should have been identified and remedied earlier & # 39;
Commonwealth Bank was fined $ 700 million in 2018 for serious breaches of the same laws.
Attorney General Christian Porter said the CBA fine came after 53,000 infringements, while Westpac reportedly earned 23 million.
He said it was unclear whether they were in the same category or a different level of severity.
& # 39; That is a matter of extreme seriousness. I mean, at first glance it's horrible, but we need to know more about it & # 39 ;, Mr. Porter said to the National Press Club.
Mrs. Rose said that the alleged failures of Westpac have led to serious and systematic breaches of money laundering and counter-terrorist financing legislation.
"This resulted in a significant loss of intelligence to AUSTRAC and our partners for national security and law enforcement," said Rose.
The prime minister said that despite the controversies, the banks should continue to support home buyers and small businesses.
"All of this is not a leave pass to reach the drawbridge in terms of credit extension to the Australian economy," Morrison said.
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