May 19, 2020 / 2:31 AM / 7 days ago

Scandal-hit Westpac picks insider to head financial crime and compliance

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian looks at his phone as he walks past a logo for Australia's Westpac Banking Corp located outside a branch in central Sydney, Australia, November 5, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray

(Reuters) - Westpac Banking Corp (WBC.AX) named an insider on Tuesday to a newly created role overseeing financial crime and compliance after the bank was caught up in a major money laundering scandal last year.

The scandal rocked Australia’s second-biggest bank after it was accused of millions of breaches of anti-money laundering laws, including allegations that it enabled illegal payments between known child sex offenders.

Les Vance, the current chief operating officer of Westpac’s consumer division, has been with the lender since 2008.

Earlier this month, Westpac admitted it breached anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws but denied that it enabled those illegal payments, according to a filing with a federal court.

Chief Executive Officer Peter King said “Westpac has made significant progress in improving its financial crime capability.” adding that Vance will bring a “forensic approach” to the job.

The lender has set aside A$900 million ($586.53 million) for an expected fine in the case, but some analysts expect the fine to be around A$1 billion.

Westpac also said David Lindberg, chief executive of the consumer division, and Chief Information Officer Craig Bright were leaving the bank to take up new roles outside Australia.

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and Tom Brown

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