CBA ac­cused of laun­der­ing law com­pli­ance breach

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SI­MONE ZIAZIARIS

COM­MON­WEALTH B a n k has been ac­cused of more than 53,000 breaches of laws put in place to com­bat money laun­der­ing and the fi­nanc­ing of ter­ror­ism.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s fi­nan­cial in­tel­li­gence unit AUS­TRAC yes­ter­day launched civil pro­ceed­ings ac­cus­ing CBA of sys­temic fail­ure to com­ply with anti- money laun­der­ing and counter- ter- ror­ism fi­nanc­ing laws. It is un­der­stood CBA faces a max­i­mum penalty of $ 18 mil­lion for each of 53,700 al­leged con­tra­ven­tions, if found guilty.

The ac­cu­sa­tions fol­low an AUS­TRAC in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the bank’s use of in­tel­li­gent de­posit ma­chines – ATMs that ac­cept up to $ 20,000 per cash trans­ac­tion.

AUS­TRAC claims CBA failed to as­sess the money laun­der­ing and ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing risk of IDMs be­fore they were rolled out in 2012, and only took its first steps to as­sess the risks in mid- 2015.

The bank also al­legedly failed to pro­vide on time re­ports of more than 53,500 trans­ac­tions through IDMs of $ 10,000 or more, to­talling $ 625 mil­lion.

AUS­TRAC has also ac­cused CBA of fail­ing to re­port sus­pi­cious mat­ters in­volv­ing $ 77 mil­lion worth of trans­ac­tions, ei­ther on time or at all. “Even af­ter CBA be­came aware of sus­pected money laun­der­ing or struc­tur­ing on CBA ac­counts, it did not mon­i­tor its cus­tomers to mit­i­gate and man­age money laun­der­ing/ ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing risk,” AUS­TRAC said in a state­ment.

CBA’s con­duct had hin­dered law en­force­ment ef­forts, re­sult­ing in a loss in ev­i­dence, fur­ther money laun­der­ing and lost pro­ceeds of crime, AUS­TRAC said.

“The ef­fect of Com­mBank’s con­duct in this mat­ter has ex­posed the Aus­tralian com­mun- ity to se­ri­ous and on­go­ing fi­nan­cial crime,” it said.

Aus­tralia’s largest lender said it had been in dis­cus­sions with AUS­TRAC for an ex­tended pe­riod and had co- op­er­ated with its re­quests.

“We have worked to con­tin­u­ously im­prove our com­pli­ance and have kept AUS­TRAC abreast of those ef­forts, which will con­tinue,” CBA said in a state­ment. It said it took its reg­u­la­tory obli­ga­tions ex­tremely se­ri­ously.

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