CBA contests new AUSTRAC claims

The Commonwealth Bank has denied almost all the additional charges filed by financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC regarding the bank’s alleged anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing breaches.

In a document lodged with the Federal Court on Friday, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia denied 89 of the 100 charges in AUSTRAC's amended statement of claim filed on 14 December 2017.

CBA denied 89 of the 100 new allegations relating to breaches of the anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism funding regime in full, and admitted 11 allegations in part.

In addition, CBA told the Federal Court it "categorically denies" all allegations of liability relating to a shareholder class action alleging that CBA failed to disclose it was subject to potential AUSTRAC enforcement action.

"We consider that we have complied with our continuous disclosure obligations at all times. There was no price sensitive information about the matters raised in the AUSTRAC proceeding that required disclosure," the bank said in a statement released on Friday.

Responding to the AUSTRAC allegations, CBA agreed that it was late in filing 53,506 threshold transaction reports. However, the bank said it would ask the court to treat all 53,506 contraventions as a "single course of conduct".

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CBA also admitted that it did "not adequately adhere to risk assessment requirements" for its intelligent deposit machines, which were used by criminals to launder cash overseas.

"We agree that our transaction monitoring did not operate as intended in respect of a number of accounts between October 2012 and October 2015," the bank said.

When it comes to CBA's suspicious matter report (SMR) obligations, relating to which AUSTRAC is alleging 230 contraventions, the bank admitted to making errors in 98 instances.

CBA said there were less than 98 separate contraventions, admitting that 53 SMRs were filed late and a further 45 SMRs "should have been filed".

The bank is denying the remaining 132 allegations concerning SMRs.

CBA also admitted to 56 contraventions of AUSTRAC's ongoing customer due diligence requirements.

Relating to the class action, which alleges the bank failed to disclose to the market it was subject to AUSTRAC enforcement action, CBA rejected the allegations completely.

"CBA first became aware of AUSTRAC’s proceeding on the day it filed its statement of claim with the Federal Court on 3 August 2017," said Friday's statement.

"At no time prior to 3 August 2017 did AUSTRAC tell us: that it had decided to take any action against CBA; or about the number or nature of the contraventions it would be alleging against CBA.

"CBA takes its continuous disclosure obligations seriously and will continue to vigorously defend the claim."

CBA contests new AUSTRAC claims
ASIC, AUSTRAC, Commonwealth Bank, CommBank, CBA, anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism financing, AML, CTF,
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