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World Westpac, one of Australia's largest banks, hit with record $920 million penalty

10:47  24 september  2020
10:47  24 september  2020 Source:   cnn.com

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Australia ' s Westpac Banking Corp agreed to pay a record A.3 billion ($ 920 million ) fine to settle a lawsuit accusing it of enabling millions of payments to people exploiting children. Ten months after financial crime agency AUSTRAC dropped the bombshell lawsuit, the second- largest Australian

Hong Kong (CNN Business) Westpac , one of Australia ' s largest banks , has agreed to pay a record -breaking penalty of nearly billion for systematically Westpac also admitted as part of that deal that it broke anti-money laundering and terrorism financing laws more than 23 million times.

Westpac, one of Australia's largest banks, has agreed to pay a record-breaking penalty of nearly $1 billion for systematically allowing money laundering on its watch.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Pedestrians wearing protective face masks walk past the Westpac Banking Corp. (Westpac) logo displayed at a branch in Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images © Bloomberg via Getty Images Pedestrians wearing protective face masks walk past the Westpac Banking Corp. (Westpac) logo displayed at a branch in Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The company announced Thursday that it has agreed to the 1.3 billion Australian dollar ($920 million) fine with AUSTRAC, a regulator in Australia that fights financial crime. Westpac also admitted as part of that deal that it broke anti-money laundering and terrorism financing laws more than 23 million times.

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Westpac has agreed to pay the largest fine in Australian corporate history — a .3 billion civil penalty for more than 23 million breaches of anti-money laundering laws. But what exactly did it do wrong and how does the penalty stack up?

Westpac Banking Corp. will pay a record A.3 billion ($ 920 million ) fine to settle Australia ’ s biggest breach of anti-money laundering laws. That is the largest ever. The previous record was 700 million paid by Commonwealth Bank back in 2018. And yet Westpac had budgeted 900 million for this.

"I would like to apologise sincerely for the bank's failings," CEO Peter King said in a statement. "We are committed to fixing these issues to ensure that these mistakes do not happen again. This has been my number one priority."

If the fine is approved by an Australian court, it would be the largest corporate penalty in the country's history. A 700 million Australian dollar ($493 million) fine was levied on the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in 2018 after that bank admitted it failed to observe laws to prevent money laundering and financing of terrorism.

Westpac shares slumped Thursday in Sydney, and were last trading down about 1%.

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Australian bank is handed the largest civil penalty in the country' s history.

Australia ' s Westpac bank has agreed to pay a record AU.3 billion (US3 million ) fine for more than 23 million breaches of money-laundering laws AUSTRAC said the proposed fine "reflects the seriousness and magnitude of compliance failings by Westpac ", one of the country's biggest banks .

Australian regulators pursued legal action against Westpac nearly a year ago when they said the bank failed to report millions of instructions for financial transfers in and out of Australia.

The regulatory watchdog said at the time that Westpac neglected to do its due diligence on transactions to the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia "that have known financial indicators relating to potential child exploitation."

King said the company has made changes to how it monitors transactions, and has hired hundreds of people responsible for looking out for financial crime. The bank also created an executive position who is directly responsible for improving its ability to address financial crimes.

The allegations rocked the bank and led to the resignation of former CEO Brian Hartzer last November.

The fine also significantly exceeds what Westpac set aside as payment for the scandal. In its announcement Thursday, the bank said it had earlier estimated a possible penalty of 900 million Australian dollars ($634 million).

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Australia ' s Westpac Bank agreed on Thursday to pay AU.3 billion (US9 million , €791 million ) for breaching money laundering laws, said the The fine, if approved by a federal court, would be the largest civil penalty ever in the country — and one of the largest fines in Australian corporate history.

Westpac , one of Australia ' s largest banks , hit with record $ 920 million penalty over money laundering scandal. The Manila-based Asian Development Bank has forecast that the country’s economy will contract by 7.3 percent for the whole of 2020.

The penalty reflects the "serious and systemic nature" of Westpac's non-compliance, AUSTRAC said in a statement Thursday.

"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," said AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose.

-- Angus Watson contributed to this report.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Pedestrians wearing protective face masks walk past the Westpac Banking Corp. © Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images Pedestrians wearing protective face masks walk past the Westpac Banking Corp.

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