Westpac Australia sacks chief executive over laundering scandal

Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer has stood down

Mr Hartzer will step down on Monday and be replaced on an interim basis by chief financial officer Peter King, while Mr Maxsted is no longer seeking re-election at next month's AGM and will retire in "the first half of 2020". He would be resigning next month with a full salary of 2.7 million dollars (1.8 million US dollars) for 2020 but would be denied his 2019 bonuses.

AUSTRAC's statement of claim against Westpac details a litany of technology failures that went unaddressed for years, culminating in a whopping 23 million breaches of anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers "welcomed" the decision. "While the review is ongoing, it has found no material issues to date", Corbally said.

Following shareholder queries, ANZ (ASX:ANZ) today provided an update on the actions it has taken to assist in the prevention of financial crime in the Australian banking system. It's a key part of the economy.

Aside from necking its chief executive and chairman yesterday, Westpac over the last few days revealed it is throwing another $25 million at its broken transaction monitoring systems to expedite fixes.

After days of turmoil which resulted in chief executive officer Brian Hartzer falling on his sword almost one week after the scandal broke, the bank now faces the risk of customers exiting.

Referring to two of the most notorious collapses in global financial history, he is said to have told executives the scandal was "not an Enron or Lehman Brothers".

"We all read the Fin (The Financial Review) and The Australian, and we all read that and think the world is ending", he said according to The Australian.

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According to news outlet The Australian, Hartzer said to executives in a meeting: 'For people in mainstream Australia going about their daily lives, this is not a major issue so we don't need to overcook this'. We do not write articles to promote products.

"It is clear that we have fallen well short of what the community expects of us, and we expect of ourselves".

"Unfortunately in the heightened media environment it will not look good if we have our staff whooping it up with alcohol", he said.

Among other failings, the regulator alleged the bank - the nation's oldest - had failed to adequately monitor the accounts of a convicted child sex offender who had regularly sent money to the Philippines.

Most of the offences concerned late reporting of overseas transactions, but Austrac believes some of the transactions were also linked to "child exploitation risks". "This includes money laundering, terrorism, human trafficking, tax evasion and child exploitation", Corbally said.

Westpac shares closed down 0.2% on Wednesday, taking its total decline to 6.6% or A$6.2 billion ($4.2 billion) in market capitalisation since the money-laundering lawsuit was announced.

In closing Monday morning's briefing, Mr Hartzer said, "This is not an Enron or Lehman Brothers, we will get through this".

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