Westpac appoints Promontory to conduct review after its massive money laundering accusation

From: RegTech Analyst

Westpac has appointed Promontory to conduct an external accountability and financial crime program review, following the bank’s numerous money laundering accusations.

Earlier in the month, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) accused Westpac of breaching anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing regulations 23 million times. Each of these breaches hold a maximum penalty of AUS $21m ($14m).

As a result of the allegations, the bank’s CEO Brian Hartzer is stepping down on December 2 and chairman Lindsay Maxsted will leave in 2020.

Maxsted said, “Westpac is determined to urgently address the issues that have given rise to the AUSTRAC statement of claim.

“We are genuinely remorseful for any hurt caused by the shortcomings in our systems and processes and understand we need to find the root causes and ensure accountability.”

As part of the response plan to the accusations, the bank has also established the Westpac Board Financial Crime Committee which will oversee the review.

The initial priority of the review will be around issues associated with its international money transfer service LitePay.

Maxsted added, “If and where procedural, escalation or accountability failings are confirmed through Promontory’s review, there will be immediate action taken.”

The bank is also establishing an Accountability Review advisory panel which will consider Promontory’s report and offer recommendations.

These recommendations of the reviews will be made public and implemented as soon as possible, it claims.

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