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Westpac accused of breaching anti-money laundering laws

Westpac has been accused of breaching 23 million anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance laws.

AUSTRAC has launched legal action against the bank, alleging Westpac systems were used by 12 individuals linked to child exploitation and live child sex shows in the Philippines and other parts of south-east Asia.

AUSTRAC alleges 2944 transactions, totalling $480,000, were made for child exploitation payments.

Westpac is facing a penalty of more than a billion dollars.

Thomson Reuters Asia Pacific Regulatory Intelligence Manager Nathan Lynch tells Ross Greenwood things quickly got out of control.

“It sounds difficult to understand how a bank could miss 23 million-plus breaches but these are big complex organisations.

“Funds were effectively moving in and out of Australia but it looked like an internal bank transfer and that’s why so many bits of financial intelligence simply weren’t getting reported.”

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AML Solutions CEO and former manager at AUSTRAC Todd Harland tells Ross Greenwood part of the issue can be put down to culture.

“If there’s a culture of profit vs compliance then that’s going to win out every time.”

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Image: Getty/Greg Wood