Australian bank Westpac faces massive fine for breaches

PERTH, Australia — Major Australian bank Westpac is facing a potentially massive fine after being accused of 23 million breaches of the anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing act.

The financial crime regulator AUSTRAC said Wednesday it was pursuing Westpac, one of Australia’s four biggest banks, in the Federal Court for allegedly failing to report millions of international fund transfers including payments allegedly linked to child exploitation in Southeast Asia.

AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose declined to comment on the potential penalty but the financial watchdog in its submission to the Federal Court noted that each of the breaches attracted a civil penalty “between 17 million-21 million Australian dollars.”

Westpac could face a fine up to 483 trillion Australian dollars (US $330 trillion) but precedent suggests it’s unlikely to be fined that much.

The Associated Press