Australian banking group Westpac has been fined A$113m ($80.6m) for widespread compliance let-downs across multiple businesses.
In November 2021, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) initiated six civil penalty proceedings against the bank in the Federal Court.
The cases covered Westpac’s banking, superannuation, and wealth management businesses as well as its former non-life insurance operations.
In one of the cases, Westpac and related entities within the group, charged over A$10.9m in advice fees to more than 11,800 dead customers.
According to ASIC, “Justice Beach noted that systems and compliance failures were a common feature and the misconduct by Westpac was considered serious.”
Regarding the fees charged to dead customers, Justice Beach stated that the group “utterly failed to address the issues systematically”.
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The bank has admitted to all the allegations in all the proceedings and will remediate more than A$80m to customers.
ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said: “Over the course of 13 years, more than 70,000 customers have been affected by these failures, either by being incorrectly charged or given the wrong information.
“The sheer scale of this impact suggests that, at the time, Westpac had a culture that did not prioritise compliance.”
Other cases against Westpac state that the bank distributed duplicate insurance policies to more than 7,000 customers for the same property and at the same time.
The bank is also said to have sold consumer credit cards and flexi-loan debt to debt purchasers with incorrect interest rates.