Will Westpac Survive the Controversy?
Satoshi Nakamoto inscribed " The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks" on Bitcoin's genesis block. Since Bitcoin's release, it has been at odds with banks. This possibly stems from the fact that cryptocurrencies could make the banking sector obsolete amongst other uses.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have been repeatedly bashed by figures in banking and finance. It has been called a "fraud" by JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon and is often called a money-laundering tool. Oddly enough, Australia's second largest bank, Westpac just got accused of money laundering a whopping 23 million times.
Pictured: A Westpac Bank branch
Westpac's AML Woes
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Australian banking giant Westpac was accused by regulators of breaking anti-money laundering laws. It appears that there have been over 23 million different breaches.
AUSTRAC, a governmental financial intelligence agency dedicated to fighting money laundering claimed Westpac authorized payments to "high risk" countries. This list includes countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
As per AUSTRAC "The risk posed to Westpac was that these high risk or sanctioned countries may have been able to access the Australian payment system,"
The regulator is looking into fines as high as $21 million AUD for every breach. This is one of the highest penalties in the Australian banking market to date. Hypothetically it could cause the closure of Westpac, although that is a tad unlikely. A much smaller settlement will likely be reached between the Australian government and Westpac.
In addition to AML policy issues, Westpac is now under review by AUSTRAC for child exploitation concerns. The bank allegedly knew about the risks in small value payments to the Philipines and South East Asia. Despite that, detection systems were not put in place until 2018 and registered Australian pedophiles apparently were able to open several accounts and send out payments to the Philippines.
Many in banking & certain aspects of finance bash Bitcoin & cryptocurrencies for misdeeds that they commit. As always long Bitcoin - short bankers.
Written by Jonathan Ganor
Writer & cryptocurrency aficionado