Could Commonwealth Bank be fined a trillion dollars for systemic law breaching?
Failure to comply with anti-money laundering and terror financing legislation could leave the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) facing enormous fines.
The Australian Transaction Reports & Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has launched civil proceedings, claiming that CBA breached laws relating to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act) on no fewer than 53,700 occasions.
If the maximum penalty is carried for each offence (AU$18mn), then the total fine could breach $1trn.
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AUSTRAC acting CEO Peter Clark said that this action follows an investigation by AUSTRAC into CBA’s compliance, particularly regarding its use of intelligent deposit machines (IDMs).
He said: “By failing to have sound AML/CTF systems and controls in place, businesses are at risk of being misused for criminal purposes," Mr Clark said.
"AUSTRAC's goal is to have a financial sector that is vigilant and capable of responding, including through innovation, to threats of criminal exploitation."
"We believe this can be achieved by working collaboratively with and supporting industry. We will continue to work in this way with our industry partners who also share this aim and demonstrate a strong commitment to it."
Here is a summary of AUSTRAC’s accusations:
- CBA did not comply with its own AML/CTF program, because it did not carry out any assessment of the money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) risk of IDMs before their rollout in 2012. CBA took no steps to assess the ML/TF risk until mid-2015 - three years after they were introduced.
- For a period of three years, CBA did not comply with the requirements of its AML/CTF program relating to monitoring transactions on 778,370 accounts.
- CBA failed to give 53,506 threshold transaction reports (TTRs) to AUSTRAC on time for cash transactions of $10,000 or more through IDMs from November 2012 to September 2015.
- These late TTRs represent approximately 95 per cent of the threshold transactions that occurred through the bank’s IDMs from November 2012 to September 2015 and had a total value of around $624.7 million.
- AUSTRAC alleges that the bank failed to report suspicious matters either on time or at all involving transactions totalling over $77 million.
- Even after CBA became aware of suspected money laundering or structuring on CBA accounts, it did not monitor its customers to mitigate and manage ML/TF risk, including the ongoing ML/TF risks of doing business with those customers.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.