The Federal Court of Australia has today ordered Westpac to pay a $1.3 billion penalty for its breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act).
The penalty imposed is the highest civil penalty in Australian history, reflecting the seriousness of compliance failings by Westpac.
AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose PSM said the outcome today sends a strong statement to Westpac and the financial sectors we regulate that they are obliged by law to take their obligations seriously or significant penalties will be applied.
“Financial institutions must ensure they have strong compliance systems, processes and resources in place to protect the Australian community and their businesses from criminals and criminal threats.”
“To maintain public confidence in Australia’s financial system and prevent future non-compliance, AUSTRAC will not hesitate to take action when these obligations are not met. This is aligned with AUSTRAC’s role and community expectations.”
Ms Rose said it is critical industry recognise they are first line of defence against criminals, and failing to meet their AML/CTF obligations puts the safety of our community at risk.
“AUSTRAC is committed to working collaboratively with Westpac and all regulated businesses to support them to understand and meet their obligations to protect Australia’s financial system from criminal threats.”
Westpac continues to partner with AUSTRAC to assist AUSTRAC and law enforcement agencies to stop financial crime, including as a member of AUSTRAC’s private-public partnership the Fintel Alliance.
AUSTRAC (the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) is the Australian Government agency responsible for detecting, deterring and disrupting criminal abuse of the financial system to protect the community from serious and organised crime.
Through strong regulation, and enhanced intelligence capabilities, AUSTRAC collects and analyses financial reports and information to generate financial intelligence.
Learn more about AUSTRAC: https://www.austrac.gov.au/about-us/austrac-overview