Commonwealth Bank chair Catherine Livingstone has admitted to shareholders that AUSTRAC’s allegations against the bank have “damaged our reputation”.
Speaking to shareholders at CBA's annual general meeting in Sydney yesterday, the bank's chairman Catherine Livingstone said it was "clear" that the bank was "deficient in aspects of its compliance with AUSTRAC's regulations".
The admission comes as CBA prepares its defence to allegations by AUSTRAC that the bank allowed millions of dollars in cash to be laundered through its so-called 'intelligent deposit machines' without reporting the breaches to the regulator.
The bank is required to file its defence in court by 15 December, which will be made available to the public.
"It is clear that the bank was deficient in aspects of its compliance with AUSTRAC’s regulations, and it is equally clear that this has damaged our reputation: with customers, shareholders, regulators and government," Ms Livingstone said.
"As chairman, and on behalf of the board, I apologise sincerely for this deficiency and its consequence."
Ms Livingstone also said that the search for chief executive Ian Narev, who will leave the bank by 1 July 2018, is "well advanced".
On the topic of climate change, the CBA chairman noted that the bank's coal funding is "comparatively small and has been trending down for some time".
"We expect that trend to continue over time as we help finance the transition to a low carbon economy," she said.
Climate change activist group Market Forces welcomed the news as a "signal" CBA plans to exit from coal.
"This is Commonwealth Bank telling shareholders and the broader economy its overall coal exposure is only going to head in one direction – down – leaving little to no room for financing new coal projects," said Market Forces in response to Ms Livingstone's comments.
Shareholders adopted the 2017 remuneration report, and resolutions to re-elect directors David Higgins, Andrew Mohl and Wendy Stops were all carried. A resolution to elect Robert Whitfield as a director was also carried.
AustralianSuper, which owns $2.44 billion in CBA shares (approximately 1.8 per cent of the bank's stock) voted against the re-election of Andrew Mohl, a spokesperson confirmed to InvestorDaily.
"AustralianSuper is an active owner of its members’ investments and votes accordingly. We voted in favour of the remuneration report and we appreciate the work that has been done to address the shareholder concerns with last year’s report," said the spokesperson.