Banking on an inquiry
LABOR has used claims of money laundering by bikies and Mexican drug cartels using Australia’s big banks to renew calls for a Royal Commission into the sector.
Details of a police investigation have been exposed in a Fairfax media probe, revealing the big four banks – Westpac, ANZ, NAB, and CBA – are all implicated in money laundering scams by organised crime gangs. Other mid-tier banks are also reportedly involved.
The report claims crime syndicates have exploited weak laws to open accounts or deposit money with minimal or false identification, allowing them to move around up to $5 million in drug money a day.
The report claims to expose gaping holes in the banks’ anti-money laundering systems.
Last month an investigation by anti-money laundering agency AUSTRAC into the Commonwealth Bank exposed an alleged lack of oversight into money flows by the bank, and the Opposition ramped up long-running calls for a large-scale inquiry into Australia’s banking sector.
The latest revelations support suspicions questionable practices are widespread.
Senior Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese told Nine’s Today program yesterday: “We need a banking royal commission and I don’t know why the government is resisting this. It will happen, let’s get on with it.”
Key claims in the police investigation, according to Fairfax, include an outlaw bikie considering acquiring a branch of a mid-tier bank, and a Bank of Queensland branch being closed down following a money-laundering operation by a Mexican drug cartel.
The report also identified a cases of Hong Kong nationals exploiting the banks to launder up to $29 million in drug money. – Liz Burke