Westpac has been forced to cough up more than a billion dollars in penalties to the financial crimes watchdog. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi
Westpac has been forced to cough up more than a billion dollars in penalties to the financial crimes watchdog. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

Westpac whacked with enormous $1.3b fine

Westpac has been forced to cough up more than a billion dollars in penalties to the financial crimes watchdog for making 23 million financial law breaches in 2019.

The country's second largest bank has been ordered to pay Austrac $1.3 billion after investigations last year revealed it had allowed transactions and transfers that funded terrorism and human trafficking.

Westpac set aside $900 million in its 2020 half-year results in anticipation of a fine.

A dispute between Austrac and Westpac was lodged in the federal court earlier this year to determine the total payout and the number of breaches.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Westpac admitted to the total number of breaches claimed by Austrac.

The bank had originally admitted to about 19 million of the financial crime violations after an internal probe, instead of the 23 million alleged by the regulator.

Westpac chief executive Peter King said the bank was apologetic for its failings relating to the historical transactions, which were not flagged as suspicious at the time.

"We are committed to fixing the issues to ensure that these mistakes do not happen again," he said.

"This has been my number one priority. We have also closed down relevant products and reported all relevant historical transactions."

Originally published as Westpac hit with enormous $1.3b fine


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