Westpac opens the emergency exit for retail investors

By Lachlan Maddock
 — 1 minute read

Westpac will provide a withdrawal option for retail investors who applied for shares in its $500 million share purchase plan prior to AUSTRAC airing its dirty laundry.

The decision follows discussions with ASIC, according to an ASX release from Westpac. 

Eligible applicants may request to withdraw their application for shares by 5PM on Friday, 6 December. Eligible applicants must have applied for shares before AUSTRAC’s announcement on 20 November 2019.


All other terms and conditions remain unchanged.

Westpac’s broader $2.5 billion capital raise is proving increasingly controversial, with some questioning how much the bank knew about a potential AUSTRAC enforcement. 

ASIC launched an investigation into AUSTRAC’s allegations last Thursday, and rumours swirl that it may specifically examine the bank’s capital raise. 

When reached for comment, an ASIC representative told Investor Daily that while the regulator had launched an investigation, no particular law or focus had been specified. That remains unchanged at this time. 

Westpac did disclose the potential for an AUSTRAC enforcement in its annual report and a risk statement accompanying its announcement of the capital raise, Chairman Lindsay Maxsted defended those disclosures in a media call on Tuesday.

“You can imagine the amount of attention those disclosures got by the board, assisted by internal legal counsel, external legal counsel,” Mr Maxsted said. 

But it seems that ASIC might have a different opinion. 

The withdrawal option is the latest in a series of setbacks for the bank, including the resignation of CEO Brian Hartzer and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s confirmation that the bank’s leadership team would be examined under APRA’s new Banking Executive Accountability Regime.


Westpac opens the emergency exit for retail investors
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