Why did the Westpac share price go backwards in April?

It was a rough month for the ‘big four’ bank stock. Here’s what happened.

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Key points

  • The Westpac share price handed back some of its gains for the year so far in April
  • The big bank stock slipped 1.8% over the course of the month to trade at $23.84 right now
  • Its dip came as the bank was hit with $114.5 million in fines after the Federal Court found "widespread compliance failures across multiple businesses"

The Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) share price outperformed its ‘big four’ banking peers over the first three months of 2022. However, April brought a far different performance from the bank.

Westpac’s stock has slipped 1.8% since the end of last month. For context, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) has dipped 1.2% over the same period.

At the time of writing, the Westpac share price is trading at $23.84, 1.06% higher than its previous close. The ASX 200 is also up 0.63% today.

So, what’s been going on with Westpac this month? Let’s take a look.

Westpac share price slumps amid $114.5m in fines

The Westpac share price has struggled over the last month.

Its underwhelming performance came as the bank was hit with millions of dollars of fines after the Federal Court sided with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on several matters.

The first fine handed down was the smallest, at $1.5 million. The penalty came after the court found Westpac mis-sold consumer credit insurance with its credit cards and flexi loans to customers who didn’t agree to purchase the policies.  

Westpac was hit with a further six fines – worth a total of $113 million – over the remainder of April. They related to charges brought against the bank in November 2021.

The Federal Court noted it had found “widespread compliance failures across multiple [Westpac] businesses“.

The bank was fined $40 million for charging advice fees to deceased customers.

Its subsidiary, BT Funds Management, was hit with a $20 million fine after it was found to have charged superannuation members banned commission payments.

Another $20 million fine was ordered after Westpac was found to have allowed around 21,000 deregistered company accounts to stay open, with fees continually charged to said accounts.

A $15 million penalty was dropped on it for distributing duplicate insurance policies, making customers pay for multiple, unnecessary policies.  

It will pay another $12 million for overcharging interest on credit card debt and loans and a final $6 million fine for charging fees for financial advice without proper disclosure.

Despite last month’s poor performance, the Westpac share price is having a good year so far on the ASX.

Shares in the bank are currently trading 11.6% higher than at the start of 2022. However, they have fallen 5.3% since this time last year.

Motley Fool contributor Brooke Cooper has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Westpac Banking Corporation. 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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