The Westpac money laundering scandal – Australia’s largest case of moral blindness?

Original article by Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan
Corporate Governance Update – Page: Online : 27-Nov-19

Before its money laundering scandal, Westpac was the ‘least distrusted’ of the big-four banks. That is about to change. In the immediate wake of Westpac being accused by the regulator of breaching anti-money laundering laws 23 million times, the question is, how could there be such a comprehensive failure of governance? Shareholders, employees, customers – and ultimately the courts – all want to know what went wrong. Was it intentional or did the breaches go unnoticed? Chances are we have witnessed corporate Australia’s largest case of moral blindness. On the march to prosperity following the GFC, many C-Suite executives and company directors felt liberated from the shackles of ethics, freed and legitimated by the need to rebuild shareholder value. Moral blindness, it seems, was sanctioned by this ‘prosperity imperative’. A decade later the Financial Services Royal Commission exposed moral blindness across the sector. Possibly the most spectacular revelation was the moral blindness exhibited by the then AMP Chair and CEO. Now it’s Westpac’s turn in the moral blindness spotlight. If any good is to come of the Westpac scandal it is the recognition that every corporate board needs an Ethics Committee to combat intentional wrongdoing. And moral blindness.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AMP LIMITED – ASX AMP, AUSTRALIA. ROYAL COMMISSION INTO MISCONDUCT IN THE BANKING, SUPERANNUATION AND FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY

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