Westpac hit with several lawsuits from securities buyers following reports about it failing to report 23 million suspicious transactions

One of the four biggest Australian banks is facing some huge challenges. Not only is Westpac accused of having breached anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regulations, but it is now also dealing with a smattering of lawsuits.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) accused Westpac in November 2019 of having failed to report 23 million suspicious transactions carried out between 2013 and 2018. Each individual case potentially carries a fine of $7.5m.

Since then, the bank has appointed an external review of its processes and seen both its chairman and CEO leave the company as a result of the scandal.

Now Westpac has been hit by a string of lawsuits.

The first new class action lawsuit was filed by Rosen Law Firm, which represented people who had bought Westpac securities from between 2015 and 2019.

The lawsuit alleged that it had failed to report the suspicious international transactions to AUSTRAC, to appropriately monitor and assess the ongoing money laundering and terrorism financing risks associated with movement of money into and out of Australia, and that it did not pass on requisite information to other banks in the transfer chain.

It also claimed that Westpac had known about the risks, but still opted to not do its due diligence on transaction in South-East Asia and that its AML and CFT programmes were inadequate.

As a result, the lawsuit accused the bank of having issued false and misleading statements about its business.

A similar lawsuit was filed by Bernstein Liebhard, a law firm, filed a similar claim. At least five other firms have filed similar lawsuits.

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