Westpac faces Philippines probe

Original article by Michael Roddan
The Australian – Page: 17 & 21 : 11-Dec-19

Westpac’s money-laundering scandal has deepened, with the allegations regarding payments linked to child exploitation to be investigated by regulators in The Philippines. The nation’s Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has indicated that its Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking is investigation the allegations in partnership with anti-money-laundering agencies in both Australia and The Philippines. The scandal is likely to dominate Westpac’s annual meeting on 12 December.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, PHILIPPINES. DEPT OF JUSTICE, PHILIPPINES. ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCIL, AUSTRALIA. ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPT. AUSTRALIAN TRANSACTION REPORTS AND ANALYSIS CENTRE

RBA chief has confidence in consumers

Original article by David Rogers, James Glynn
The Australian – Page: 23 : 11-Dec-19

George Tharenou of UBS says the Reserve Bank of Australia is likely to reduce the cash rate twice in the first half of 2020, to a record low of 0.25 per cent. He adds that the federal government’s mid-year Budget update is unlikely to include any "material" fiscal stimulus. Meanwhile, RBA governor Philip Lowe concedes that it is taking longer than usual for consumers to spend the extra cash from the three interest rate cuts in 2019 and the federal government’s income tax offset. However, he expects consumer spending to increase.

CORPORATES
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, UBS HOLDINGS PTY LTD

Westpac open to settlement

Original article by Michael Roddan
The Australian – Page: 17 & 21 : 10-Dec-19

The Federal Court has been told that Westpac and Austrac could potentially finalise a statement of agreed facts with regard to the bank’s breach of anti-money laundering laws by late February. Westpac has also advised that it will not contest the bulk of the 23 million civil charges that it is facing, which could allow the case to be settled quickly. Westpac is also under scrutiny by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, while the bank could face a board spill at its annual meeting.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AUSTRALIA. ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPT. AUSTRALIAN TRANSACTION REPORTS AND ANALYSIS CENTRE, AUSTRALIAN SECURITIES AND INVESTMENTS COMMISSION, AUSTRALIAN PRUDENTIAL REGULATION AUTHORITY, FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA

Banks struggle despite RBNZ retreat: analysts

Original article by Cliona O’Dowd
The Australian – Page: 20 : 9-Dec-19

Jonathan Mott of UBS says the outlook for Australia’s banks remains "very challenging", despite the fact that they will be treated more favourably than expected under the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s new capital requirements. The central bank will phase in the new capital rules over a longer time-frame, while the banks will able to hold a wider range of securities as tier-one capital. Several analysts expect the new capital rules to result in the banks receiving lower dividend payouts from their New Zealand subsidiaries.

CORPORATES
RESERVE BANK OF NEW ZEALAND, UBS HOLDINGS PTY LTD, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB, CITIGROUP PTY LTD, MORGAN STANLEY AUSTRALIA LIMITED

Humbled Westpac faces shareholder anger

Original article by Glenda Korporaal
The Australian – Page: 17 & 20 : 9-Dec-19

Some 64 per cent of votes cast at Westpac’s 2018 annual meeting rejected its remuneration report. The bank is likely to incur a second ‘strike’ at its 2019 annual meeting on 12 December, while the re-election of director Peter Marriott is uncertain in the wake of the scandal over breaches of anti-money laundering laws. However, Westpac is likely to avoid a resolution calling for a board spill. The Australian Shareholders’ Association and proxy adviser ISS will vote against the remuneration report, although the ASA will oppose any push to spill the board.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AUSTRALIAN SHAREHOLDERS’ ASSOCIATION, INSTITUTIONAL SHAREHOLDER SERVICES INCORPORATED, OWNERSHIP MATTERS PTY LTD, CGI GLASS LEWIS PTY LTD, AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF SUPERANNUATION INVESTORS INCORPORATED, AUSTRALIA. ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPT. AUSTRALIAN TRANSACTION REPORTS AND ANALYSIS CENTRE

JPMorgan helped identify cartel bankers

Original article by Pamela Williams
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 1 & 8 : 6-Dec-19

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission is taking criminal cartel action against the ANZ Bank, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, as well as six of their executives. The ACCC’s action relates to a $2.5 billion capital raising by ANZ, with the ACCC alleging that bankers from the three companies conspired to restrict the supply of or maintain the price of ANZ shares following the capital raising. Former JP Morgan executive Richard Galvin has told the New South Wales Local Court that he had listened to covert phone recordings to help the ACCC identify bankers on the calls.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN COMPETITION AND CONSUMER COMMISSION, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ, CITIGROUP PTY LTD, DEUTSCHE BANK AG, JP MORGAN AUSTRALIA LIMITED, LOCAL COURT OF NEW SOUTH WALES

Retail investors turn on director Marriott

Original article by Aleks Vickovich
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 17 : 5-Dec-19

Westpac’s money-laundering scandal is set to dominate its AGM on 12 December. The Australian Shareholders’ Association has signalled its intention to vote against the remuneration report and the re-election of Westpac director Peter Marriott. However, it will support the re-election of Nerida Caesar, Steve Harker and Margaret Seale. The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors has indicated that it will vote in favour of Marriott’s re-election. Some 64.2 per cent of votes cast at Westpac’s 2018 AGM rejected its remuneration report.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AUSTRALIAN SHAREHOLDERS’ ASSOCIATION, AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF SUPERANNUATION INVESTORS INCORPORATED, LEGG MASON ASSET MANAGEMENT AUSTRALIA LIMITED, MARTIN CURRIE INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT LIMITED

Westpac told of payments weeks ago

Original article by Michael Roddan, Bridget Carter
The Australian – Page: 17 & 21 : 29-Nov-19

Westpac has claimed that it was not aware of Austrac’s allegations regarding payments linked to child exploitation until 20 November, when the scandal was exposed. However, Austrac’s statement of claim shows that it specifically requested information from Westpac about such payments at least six weeks earlier. Meanwhile, Westpac has advised that it will allow retail investors to withdraw from a share purchase plan that was announced a week before Austrac filed civil proceedings against the bank.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AUSTRALIA. ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPT. AUSTRALIAN TRANSACTION REPORTS AND ANALYSIS CENTRE, FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIAN SECURITIES AND INVESTMENTS COMMISSION, CLIME CAPITAL LIMITED – ASX CAM

ACSI backs director resolutions

Original article by Andrew White
The Australian – Page: 21 : 29-Nov-19

The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors will back the re-election of four Westpac directors at the bank’s upcoming annual meeting. ACSI chair Louise Davidson says it would have voted differently if Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer had remained at the helm and chairman Lindsay Maxsted had not agreed to bring forward his retirement. Davidson adds that Maxsted’s successor will need to ensure that Westpac’s board has the right mix of skills to prevent another money-laundering scandal.

CORPORATES
WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF SUPERANNUATION INVESTORS INCORPORATED, AUSTRALIA. ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DEPT. AUSTRALIAN TRANSACTION REPORTS AND ANALYSIS CENTRE, FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA

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