Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Westpac escapes penalty in children exploitation probe

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Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp said on Wednesday the country’s corporate regulator will not take any action against it, after a probe into allegations that the lender enabled millions of illegal payments to people exploiting children.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), had begun its probe after financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC in November 2019 accused the country’s second biggest lender of breaching anti-money laundering laws.

In September, Westpac had settled AUSTRAC’s lawsuit against the claims and additional breaches that were discovered worth A$1.3 billion ($983.58 million).

The scandal cost former Chief Executive Officer Brian Hartzer his job and led Westpac to book hefty provisions in its earnings, while also being questioned for its risk culture and corporate governance.

The ASIC did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for a comment.

($1 = 1.3217 Australian dollars)

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