REGION – As money laundering allegations through the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) come to light, a Victor Harbor woman is standing for what she calls “injustice”.
Jenny Cherry read about allegations made by AUSTRAC and felt “obliged” to make a stand and protest in front of the CBA’s Victor Harbor branch this week.
AUSTRAC, the country’s financial intelligence and regulatory agency, took action in the federal court against the bank “for serious and systemic non-compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act)”, following an investigation by the body.
The investigation looked into CBA’s compliance, in particular use of intelligent deposit machines (IDMs) which accepts cash and cheque deposits, and automatically count the amount, and credit the nominated recipient account. They can be transferred immediately.
AUSTRAC alleges the Act was contravened more than 53,700 times from 2012 to 2015. The claims relate to: not completing assessments of money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) risks of IDMs; not monitoring transactions; not providing AUSTRAC with threshold transaction reports on time; not reporting suspicious matters on time or at all; and not monitoring customers to mitigate and manage ML/TF risk, even after becoming aware of suspected money laundering or structuring.
Ms Cherry, a CBA customer, was shocked by the allegations, so she decided to protest at the bank’s Victor Harbor branch to make other customers aware and get their thoughts on the issue. “As a customer, I can’t extricate myself from the bank. If I do nothing, it means I am condoning the standards of the bank,” she said.
“Most people just feel helpless. All I can do is protest about the allegations.”
She said she did not have a problem with her local branch, but standing by its door was her way of informing people of national organisation’s alleged issues.
“Everyone I spoke to speak highly about the staff at our local branch,” she said.
She said a Royal Commission should occur. “I think other banks should welcome the opportunity to clear their own names through a Royal Commission,” she said.
CBA chairman Catherine Livingstone said action to improve policy and process around the Act’s obligations had taken place since mid-2015, when the Board was told of the alleged issues.
“Commonwealth Bank takes its legal and regulatory obligations seriously, including its role in working with AUSTRAC, other agencies and law enforcement bodies, to fight crime,” she said.
“The Board notes it has no reason to believe that the allegations arose from deliberate or unethical behaviour, or any commercial motive.”