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.
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.
Reporting by Paulina Duran and Byron Kaye in Sydney; Editing by