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Bank chief resigns over money laundering scandal


Brian Hartzer, the chief executive of Australia’s second-biggest bank, Westpac, resigned on Tuesday over a money-laundering scandal.

Brian Hartzer will leave the bank as of December 2, Westpac’s Board announced in a statement.

The board added that Hartzer would be paid out his full 2.7 million dollars (1.8 million U.S. dollars) salary for 2020, but would not receive bonuses expected for 2019.

The move comes after Australia’s Federal Court last week agreed with the country’s financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC that Westpac had breached anti-money laundering and terrorist financing obligations.


The court found that the bank had breached the law 23 million times, including failing to monitor or report international transactions that allegedly involved sending money to child pornography operations overseas.

According to Westpac, two other top-level figures at the bank will also step back.

Chairman Lindsay Maxsted will bring forward his retirement to early 2020 and the bank’s director Ewen Crouch will not seek re-election.

“As was appropriate, we sought feedback from our stakeholders, including shareholders, and having done so it became clear that the board and management changes were in the best interest of the bank,” said Maxsted in a statement on Tuesday morning.

The court will decide the bank’s penalty in February. Each breach could get a penalty between 17 million and 21 million dollars.

Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt welcomed Hartzer’s resignation.

“I think it’s welcome, I think it’s appropriate,” he told Sky News, adding that the allegations levelled against Westpac were “disappointing, shocking, and unacceptable”.

(DPA/NAN)

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