Bank of Queensland at risk of penalties for AML/CFT failings

Bank of Queensland (BOQ) says it is at risk of being subjected to penalties, sanctions or other enforcement action due to weaknesses in its anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) programme.

If it is in breach of AML/CFT regulations, the Australian regional bank could face a hefty fine similar to those imposed on its larger rivals, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank.

Material uplift needed

In its financial results for the six months to the end of February, BOQ said that a number of internal and external reviews identified a material uplift is required in the bank’s operational resilience, risk culture and governance and its AML/CFT programme and compliance.

The bank says it is engaging proactively with regulators in relation to the scope and governance of its integrated risk programme, with external subject matter experts engaged to assist. The integrated risk programme will be independently assured.

“There remains a risk that BOQ will be subject to penalties, sanctions or other enforcement action in respect of these matters,” the bank said in its half-year report.

Commonwealth Bank and Westpac fines

In 2018, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) imposed a penalty of 700 million Australian dollars (A$700 million – US$530 million) on Commonwealth Bank for breaches of AML/CFT laws. The government agency for detecting, deterring and disrupting financial crime found the bank had failed to immediately report 53,000 suspect transactions.

In 2020, Austrac fined Westpac A$1.3 billion (US$0.9 billion) for the nation’s biggest breach of money laundering laws. Australia’s financial crime watchdog said the bank had failed to adequately report over 19 million international transactions.


Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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