Wednesday, January 20, 2021

ANZ Bank Reviewing Its Anti-Money Laundering Systems Amid Westpac Scandal

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Big four bank ANZ  says it launched an internal investigation of whether its anti-money-laundering and counter-terror finance (AML CTF) systems were adequate following scandals at rival banks Commonwealth and Westpac.

On Wednesday ANZ said it was revealing the review, which had been under way since June, after questions from investors over the past few days prompted by bombshell regulatory action against Westpac that has seen off the bank’s chairman, chief executive and a director with oversight of risk.

ANZ’s announcement came as political pressure on Westpac continued, with Labor’s finance spokesman, Andrew Leigh, calling for the bank’s executives to be recalled immediately to face grilling at a parliamentary committee.

The bank’s share price has fallen more than 7% since last Wednesday, when the financial intelligence agency Austrac launched legal action accusing it of breaching anti-money-laundering laws more than 23m times in transactions involving $11bn and linking its failures to child exploitation in the Philippines.

ANZ said it was not aware of any impending litigation from Austrac.

“Given recent issues identified by Austrac within the industry, we have been reviewing the systems and processes we use to transfer money to ensure we are reporting the information required by regulators,” the chief risk officer, Kevin Corbally, said.

“While the review is ongoing, it has found no material issues to date.”

In other developments on Wednesday, Labor’s Leigh called for Westpac to be recalled to face the parliamentary economics committee of which he is deputy chair.

Hartzer was grilled by the committee just three weeks ago, before Austrac launched its legal action.

The call was immediately rebuffed by the Liberal committee chair, Tim Wilson, who accused Leigh of wanting to hold “a show trial which could prejudice possible legal action”.

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