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AUSTRALIA’S WESTPAC SETTLES MONEY LAUNDERING CASE FOR $920M

Australia's Westpac Banking Corp. said it would pay A$1.3 billion ($920 million) to settle a case filed by the country's financial crimes watchdog against the lender for breaching anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws, Shriya Ramakrishnan reported for Reuters.

Last November, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) filed a civil lawsuit accusing the Sydney-based bank of presiding over 23 million payments that violated anti-money laundering protocols, including payments by Australians to child pornography purveyors in the Philippines. The A$1.3 billion penalty, which both Westpac and AUSTRAC have agreed to recommend to the court, is larger than the A$900 million provision made by the country’s second-largest bank in its first-half results. 


“We are committed to fixing the issues to ensure that these mistakes do not happen again. This has been my number one priority,” said Westpac Group Chief Executive Peter King. “We have also closed down relevant products and reported all relevant historical transactions.”


Westpac added it would increase the provision in its accounts for the year ending Sept. 30 by a further A$404 million to account for the higher estimated penalty and additional costs.



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