Australia adds to money laundering claims against Commonwealth Bank

Australia’s financial crimes watchdog has accused Commonwealth Bank of Australia of failing to comply with anti-money laundering laws. (Reuters)

MELBOURNE: Australia’s financial crimes watchdog has added more than 100 new claims against the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for failing to comply with anti-money laundering laws, including late reporting of attempts to wire money as recently as August by an individual convicted of terror-related offenses.

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The claims add to those included in a civil case that the watchdog filed in August, in which the watchdog accused CBA of several breaches of law including failing to identify, monitor and report money transfers over A$10,000 (SR28,387), in contravention of the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing Act.
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“These allegations are very serious and reflect systemic non-compliance over approximately six years,” Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) Chief Executive Nicole Rose said in a statement.
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CBA on Wednesday formally admitted to a range of allegations leveled against it, but disputed the number of contraventions. On Thursday, it said it would file an amended defense in due course.
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“We take our anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing … obligations extremely seriously, and deeply regret any failure on our part to comply with these obligations,” CBA said in a statement on Thursday.
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The amended claims included attempts to wire money to Beirut by a person who was in 2005 convicted of terrorism-related activities which was not reported to Austrac within 24 hours, as required, according to a filing with Australia’s Federal Court.
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“In spite of concluding on 26 June 2017, that potential terrorism financing was being conducted on CommBank Account 184, a stop was not put on CommBank Account 184 until 9 August 2017,” AUSTRAC said in court documents.
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CBA on Wednesday said the late filings of many reports were the result of a single systems-related error.
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The maximum penalty for a single contravention is up to $21 million.
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AUSTRAC is continuing to work with the CBA to help strengthen its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing processes, Rose said.
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