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Commonwealth Bank admits to failures in money-laundering case

Commonwealth Bank admits to failures in money-laundering case

Australian Associated Press

Bank responds to proceedings launched by Austrac, acknowledging errors and failures but arguing they do not amount to multiple breaches of the law

Commonwealth Bank has filed its response to allegations of breaches of anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws made by the Australian government’s financial intelligence unit.

Civil proceedings were launched by Austrac in the federal court in August. The bank’s response includes an admission that it was late in filing more than 53,500 reports of transactions of $10,000 or more through its deposit-taking ATMs between 2012 and 2015.

CBA said those reports were late due to one systems-related error, and will argue those contraventions should be treated as one course of conduct.

The bank also admits it failed to meet risk assessment requirements for its deposit-taking ATMs, which were rolled out from 2012, including that it should have introduced daily limits on cash deposits by early 2016.

CBA introduced daily limits in November 2017.

The bank will again argue that these failures should not amount to eight separate contraventions of the law, as Austrac is seeking.

It has admitted to 91 of 174 of Austrac’s allegations that it failed to properly submit suspicious matter reports, and will argue many of those relate to reports that were missing specific transaction details, and should not result in a civil penalty.

The bank will also argue it lodged a significant number of reports related to the customers highlighted in Austrac’s allegations, and that this should be considered when the court assesses the harm caused by CBA’s failure to comply with all the legal requirements of those reports.

“During the period of the claim, CBA submitted more than 36,000 suspicious matter reports, including 140 in relation to the syndicates and individuals referred to in Austrac’s claim,” the bank said in a statement.

Austrac is expected to file a response to CBA’s defence by 16 March, and a directions hearing is listed for 2 April.


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