CBA accused of laundering law compliance breach
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.