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Westpac fined record £722m for breaching money laundering laws 23m times


Westpac’s chief executive, Brian Hartzer, subsequently resigned over the scandal, handing over to Mr King, the bank’s chief financial officer at the time.

The company chairman, Lindsay Maxsted, also stepped down.

Mr King on Thursday said Westpac had beefed up its financial crime monitoring capabilities and undertaken a “reassessment of our culture, governance and accountability” to prevent future breaches.

“We are determined to continually lift our financial crime standards, comply with our obligations and uphold our customer, community and regulatory expectations,” he said in a statement.

Australia’s largest lender, the Commonwealth Bank, paid a fine of £388m in 2018 after Austrac found it had failed to report on 53,500 transactions.

Australia’s banking industry, one of the world’s most profitable, is facing an array of challenges.

The country’s four biggest banks – Commonwealth, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ – were the target of a royal commission that in 2019 exposed rampant malpractice across the sector.

It found banks had charged fees to dead people and to others for no services at all, used aggressive sales tactics and provided poor advice that led to significant financial upheaval for clients.

All the banks have reported significant hits to profits as they reimburse hundreds of millions of dollars to wronged customers.


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