Westpac blames technology and human error for anti-money laundering failings

CEO Peter King said the problems were faults of omission rather than intentional wrongdoing.

Westpac Banking Corporation has said “a mix of technology and human error” and “deficient financial crime processes” were to blame for its failure to comply with anti-money laundering obligations.

The bank is accused by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) for being involved in “systemic non-compliance” with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) Act on over 23 million occasions.

“While the compliance failures were serious, the problems were faults of omission. There was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing,” CEO Peter King said.

Specifically, Austrac said the bank consistently failed to assess and monitor ongoing money laundering and terrorism financing risks; report over 19.5 million International Funds Transfer Instructions (IFTIs) to Austrac over nearly five years for transfers both into and out of Australia; pass on information about the source of funds to other banks in the transfer chain; keep records relating to the origin of some of these international funds transfers; and carry out appropriate customer due diligence on transactions in the Philippines and South East Asia that were related to potential child exploitation risks.

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By: Asha Barbaschow