US Class Actions Pile up Against Australia’s Westpac Amid Money-Laundering Scandal

February 3, 2020 Updated: February 3, 2020
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Australia’s No.2 lender, Westpac Banking Corp, was hit with another U.S. class-action lawsuit in less than a week on Feb. 3, over issues with its financial crime monitoring amid a recent money laundering scandal.

Westpac was sued by Australia’s financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC in November for 23 million alleged breaches of anti-money laundering laws, including payments between known child exploiters.

The latest suit, filed by investor rights law firm Bernstein Liebhard in a U.S. court, comes just days after six U.S.-based law firms announced similar class-action lawsuits against the lender.

Westpac on Saturday had cautioned that similar suits may follow, while responding to New York-based Rosen Law Firm’s suit.

Westpac-Bank-signage-on-a-building
Westpac Bank signage is displayed on a building in this photo taken in Sydney, Australia, on 13 July 2006. (Greg Wood/AFP via Getty Images)

Bernstein said in a statement the class action was filed on behalf of investors who bought Westpac’s securities between Nov. 11, 2015, and Nov. 19, 2019.

The law firm accused the lender of not carrying out appropriate due diligence on transactions in Southeast Asia and the Philippines, and failing to monitor terrorism financing risks with movement of money into and out of Australia among others.

Last month, the lender appointed a former Barclays boss as its chairman to steer it through the money-laundering scandal.

Westpac media representatives did not immediately respond to an email and a call seeking comment

by Shriya Ramakrishnan