The major bank’s chairman has said the possibility that any child has been hurt as a result of the bank’s failings is “deeply distressing”.
The Westpac board of directors has issued a public apology after meeting with AUSTRAC today, with the bank saying it has commenced an urgent response plan.
In a statement on the ASX, Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted said as individuals, the board was “devastated by the issues raised by AUSTRAC.”
“The notion that any child has been hurt as a result of any failings by Westpac is deeply distressing and we are truly sorry. The board unreservedly apologises,” Mr Maxsted said.
“Our board, CEO and management team are fully committed to fixing these issues and we are taking all steps necessary to urgently close any remaining gaps and fix our policies and procedures so that this can never happen again.”
“We have already made significant improvements, including reviewing and taking action on all of the individual customers mentioned by AUSTRAC and establishing a multi-layered review.”
He added the review includes accelerating the bank’s ongoing program of AML/CTF improvements and issuing public updates of its progress.
The bank has committed to appointing independent experts to oversee the program, including a review of accountability, which it says it will act on.
“An assessment of suitably qualified candidates to lead that review is underway,” Mr Maxsted said.
“We have also commenced discussions with relevant community groups about any further steps we can take to fight child exploitation.
“We are continuing to work closely with AUSTRAC to accelerate resolution of the matter. The board will provide an update in coming days to share more information on what has occurred and what steps we are taking.”
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].
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