Westpac to close funds transfer platform LitePay

Bank to close funds transfer platform, appoint external expert after AUSTRAC issues

Westpac said it would close an international funds transfer platform and appoint an external expert to provide independent oversight in response to allegations raised by financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC.

“We understand the gravity of the issues presented by AUSTRAC and reiterate our deep sorrow for failings by Westpac,” Westpac Chairman Lindsay Maxsted said in a statement released on the lender's website on Sunday.

Announcing the bank's determination to "urgently fix" the issues concerned, Australia's second largest bank released a Response Plan amid increasing clamour by financial market participants demanding the Westpac board do more to contain the crisis ahead of a Dec. 12 shareholder meeting.

Besides closing the funds transfer platform LitePay - a technology platform that facilitated low value international payments - Westpac underscored the need to improve cross industry data sharing and reduce the human impact of financial crime.

Westpac also said its board had decided to withhold either all or part of the 2019 Short Term Variable Reward for the full executive team and several members of the general management team.

In a separate statement issued on Monday, Westpac said the measures to improve financial crime monitoring will increases its expenses up to A$80 million (pre tax) in full year 2020.

The Westpac board on Friday had apologised unreservedly for 23 million breaches of money laundering laws, but stood by management despite pressure from politicians to review its leadership.

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Alistair Bell)

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