Australian banks second for fines

— 1 minute read

Australian banks have ranked second for the highest fines worldwide, beaten only by the US.

Data from research house Finbold has indicated banks globally amassed US$15.3 billion ($19.6 billion) in fines for the 2020 year. 

The US accounted for the highest penalty total, with US$11.1 billion ($14.2 billion), or 73.4 per cent of the issued fines, racked up from 12 cases. 


Australia came in second, with US$981 million in fines from three cases. The total was primarily buoyed by Westpac’s $1.3 billion penalty in the AUSTRAC reporting scandal.

NAB’s two major fines had also contributed, where it was penalised US$55.6 million for its fees-for-no-service case and US$14.5 million for a long-running referral program that contravened the Credit Act

The Netherlands was third in the global ranks with US$916.83 million from one case, while Israel was fourth with US$902.5 million in fines from a single case. 

Goldman Sachs accounted for the first and third-largest single fines, of US$3.9 billion and US$2 billion. Wells Fargo came in second with US$3 billion. 

Finbold chief editor Oliver Scott commented fines for financial institutions are projected to grow in the coming years, as markets are set to increase sanctions. 

“However, banks are spending more on conforming to changing regulatory requirements,” Mr Scott said. 

“Overall, new and complex regulations are proving to be a challenge for the compliance departments of many lenders.”

Anti-money laundering regulations are likely to remain a “key enforcement priority”, he added. Failure to adhere to anti-money laundering protocols was the leading violation. 

The report however has only included fines higher than US$610,430 – the total number of violations could be drastically higher.


Australian banks second for fines
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Sarah Simpkins

Sarah Simpkins

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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