Westpac bank 'breached anti-money laundering laws'

Australia’s financial crime watchdog has accused Westpac bank of 23 million breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) said each breach carries a maximum a penalty of A$21m ($7.5m; £11m).

Westpac, the country’s second largest bank, said it is “reviewing” Austrac’s claim.

It is the second top Australian bank to face huge fines for breaching the laws.

Most of the breaches concern a failure to report international transfers to Austrac in a timely manner.

Westpac allegedly failed to properly report more than 19.5 million international funds transfers between 2013 and 2018.

Austrac Chief Executive Nicole Rose said Westpac’s failure to properly report the transfers undermined “the integrity of Australia’s financial system” and “hindered its ability to track down the origins of financial transactions, when required to support police investigations”.

The unreported transactions amounted to more than A$11bn over a period of up to six years, Austrac said.

The bank also allegedly failed to retain records and perform certain due diligence functions with potentially high-risk overseas banks.

Those banks all disclosed relationships with high-risk or sanctioned countries,…

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