Can Australia's Second Largest Bank Weather the Storm?
As previously reported, Australia's second largest bank, Westpac has been facing severe hardships. The Australian banking giant has been accused of breaking AML/KYC procedures in over 23 million separate breaches.
Regulators have accused Westpac of approving payments to "high risk" countries which include Zimbabwe, Iraq & Lebanon to name a few. Australian officials have claimed that fines as high as $21 million AUD for each and every breach. This could amount to a $483 trillion AUD fine which is much more than Westpac's total assets which total at $879 billion (as per 2018).
To make matters worse, Westpac is also under investigation for child exploitation concerns. Registered pedophiles were able to send small payments to small South East Asian countries. Detection systems were only put in place in 2018 despite known risks.
Westpac Changes CEO Following Fiasco
Since the Australian regulator AUSTRAC made these allegations, Westpac has been in damage control mode. Westpac has announced earlier in the week that their CEO Brian Hartzer will step down & will be temporarily replaced by former CFO Peter King. Hartzer has served as Westpac's CEO since 2015.
The Australian bank may encounter more changes to their board of executives and corporate structure in an attempt to appease regulators.
So far this is one possibly the largest fine a bank or financial institute has ever received.
Written by Jonathan Ganor
Writer & cryptocurrency aficionado