CBA’s Historic $700M Fine Highlights the Need to Include Money Laundering in the Scope of Banking Royal Commission

On 4 June 2018 CBA reached a settlement with AUSTRAC, agreeing to pay a fine of $700 million plus legal costs over serious and systemic failures to report suspicious deposits, transfers and accounts. CBA admitted to the late filing of 53,506 reports of transactions of $10,000 or more through its “intelligent deposit machines” (IDMs).

 

Watch Transparency International Australia’s CEO Serena Lillywhite comment on the case in ABC News:

Video: ABC News Channel

 

In her interview, Serena Lillywhite says that although the fine falls far short of the theoretical maximum penalty (nearing one trillion dollars), it is the largest ever civil penalty in Australian corporate history and thus sends a strong signal to the banking sector.

 

While it is encouraging that CBA has admitted that it has breached the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Laws, this case shows that it is still way too easy to launder money in Australia. IDMs (ATMs that instead of giving out withdrawals take in deposits) are not the only weak point in the Australian system – Transparency International’s report Doors Wide Open shows that the Australian real estate market is vulnerable to money laundering through anonymous property purchases.

 

The immense scale of the CBA case and its impact on the public trust in the financial sector highlights an omission in the scope of the Banking Royal Commission – it does not currently cover money laundering. Transparency International Australia recommends extending the scope of the Commission to cover this critical aspect of Australia’s financial integrity system.

 

TIA CEO discussed the CBA case on the World Today, along with Austrac CEO Nicole Rose, and Professor Jason Sharman from Cambridge University. The broadcast is available on the ABC website and below.