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Westpac share price on watch after AUSTRAC money laundering update

Westpac share price
Credit: Perry Carbonell

The Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) share price will be on watch on Tuesday after the release of an update on its dealings with AUSTRAC this morning.

What did Westpac announce?

This morning Westpac provided the market with an update on a reporting issue related to Threshold Transaction Reports (TTRs) that were described in its interim results in May. TTRs are bank transfers of more than $10,000 into and out of the country.

In its results Westpac noted that it had self-reported TTR issues to AUSTRAC. This includes TTRs filed with incomplete or inaccurate information, as well as an estimated 60,000 to 90,000 TTRs that had not been reported to AUSTRAC.

However, since then, in response to a notice from AUSTRAC and following further investigations, Westpac has provided the financial intelligence agency with updated information relating to these TTR issues.

This includes approximately 175,000 transactions that were not reported to AUSTRAC and approximately 365,000 TTRs that were reported to AUSTRAC but may have contained incomplete or inaccurate information.

What happened?

The company explained that a significant proportion of the potential reporting issues relate to a range of complex scenarios where the legislation requires Westpac to exercise judgement on how multiple transactions may be aggregated and whether a threshold transaction has actually occurred.

In light of this, not all of the above TTRs may be breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act.

Westpac advised that it continues to engage with AUSTRAC in relation to its TTR issues, and notes that the numbers above may change. It also reminded investors that AUSTRAC has warned the bank that it may amend its statement of claim to include allegations arising from its investigations into these TTR issues.

New Chief Operating Officer appointment.

In other news, Westpac has announced the creation of a new Group Operating Office, bringing together Group Operations and Group Technology, and has appointed Scott Collary to lead this division as Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Mr Collary joins Westpac from the Bank of Montreal in Canada where he has held the role of Chief Information and Operations Officer for its North American Personal & Business Banking, Private Wealth and Global Asset Management divisions.

Prior to this, Mr Collary held senior positions at Australia and New Zealand Banking GrpLtd (ASX: ANZ) and Citigroup.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro owns shares of Westpac Banking. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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