Westpac bows to the inevitable

I was mid incredulous post when the news came through:

Westpac’s chief executive Brian Hartzer will step down from Monday, with chairman Lindsay Maxsted to bring forward his retirement to the first half of 2020.

Additionally, non-executive director Ewen Crouch will not seek re-election at the upcoming annual general meeting.

The current chief financial officer Peter King will step in as acting CEO.

There was no other way. Judging by yesterday’s media about Westpac resistence, I wonder if the Government stepped in.

David Llewellyn-Smith

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

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Comments

  1. The poor guy will probably have a good cry on his yacht and only have his millions of dollars to console himself with until he gets another ridiculously high paying job.

    #PrayForBrian

    • A million dollarydoos isn’t much. It will be probably be 5-9m I recon, gotta keep his mouth shut.

      • Looks like half shut
        News.com.au “The bank’s leader will step down on December 2 with a hefty golden handshake of 12 months’ pay, which amounts to $2.7 million”

    • Your phony pragmatism really does only go one way. They messed up and the CEO and Chairman is gone. Nothing is ever perpetually solved, but I bet they improve materially in this area, as might other financial institutions.

      Only in Peachy Land can fake Too-big-to-govern (worst call ever) and No-point-in-trying be a satisfactory response to enabling pedo’s to pay for their pedo’ing.

      • Your phony pragmatism really does only go one way. They messed up and the CEO and Chairman is gone. Nothing is ever perpetually solved, but I bet they improve materially in this area, as might other financial institutions.

        I would have expected maybe some urgency in improving things after the CBA one-stop-money-laundering-shop scandal.

      • Its not Peachy Land, it’s Peachystan. And you’re standing in it, buddy.

        Of course things are never permanently fixed in Peachystan, because nobody wants them fixed.

        If you weren’t living in Peachystan, you’d look around and you’d see Narev rotting in the slammer already, with another 10 years to go and Hartzer on his way to the slammer, together with his lieutenants; ABC would be showing footage of federal police raiding Gail Kelly’s house. …and you know what? You’d find that somehow other banks would somehow find a way to not let money laundering happen ever again. Permanently.

        But in Peachystan Narev gets a high-5 on the way out, Hartzer gets a wrist slap. Might as well have given him a wristie or a gobbie…about the same deterrent effect.

        How’s that for fuсking pragmatism?

  2. I would really like to get some details around the precise nature of Westpac’s transgressions. Is it just a failure to report all international transfers? Where are the govt. agencies/ auditors in the lead up to this whole mess? What are agencies like AUSTRAC doing when they receive all this information? I am fairly agnostic about this whole debacle but if the comments leaked from the recent boardroom meeting are correct then Hartzer (and plenty of others) have to go.

    • The SWIFT system for international money transfer provides identifying information on the source and destination of each transaction for audit purposes. As I understand it, Westpac implemented two systems that provided similar functionality…one for high volume small amounts and one for lower volume large amounts. The difference is that the Westpac systems did away with the identifying metadata for ease of processing. The result…presumably intended…was that there was now a convenient way for crims of all varieties to move money around the world anonymously. And they did, bigly.

      The best take on this is that Westpac deliberately facilitated international money laundering and criminal activity under the pretence that it was easier than using SWIFT, which every other bank in the world uses.

      As to what the regulators have been doing over the last ten years or so…well…they either were asleep at the wheel or participating in the scam. Probably both. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were some public servants being paid to look the other way.

      Westpac give every appearance of being an organised criminal gang working in the open. Other people apparently think this too. One of my mates sold all his Westpac shares yesterday, and is in the process of moving to another bank.

        • They ignored the IFTI requirements in conducting cross border payments via their ACM ‘platform’.
          11 billion bucks… Facilitating global money laundering was a nice little earner for the bank

          • I really find it hard to believe that they didn’t think IFTI applied to the non-SWIFT products.

          • They know it doesn’t but greed is good and they thought they could get away with it.

            They should have their banking license pulled.

  3. Apparently he was calling the state government treasuries begging them not to take money out of the bank.
    Perhaps the consequences of him not going was a run on the bank??

  4. darklydrawlMEMBER

    So that’s it. “Retire early?” and with a nice golden handshake no doubt. Nothing will change until these fools go to Jail for a while. I wonder what sort of treatment Joe/Joette Public would get if caught doing the same illegal actions? Hmmmmm…. Sh!tful that they can just go “oooops! – we made a mistake and we’re really very sorry” and walk away.

  5. Brian’s an honorable bloke and has done the right thing. It’s a shame most pollies can’t follow his lead.

    • What’s the right thing? Allowing the pedo-finance/laundry to operate at his bank? or running away with a bag of loot when discovered?

      Why didn’t he fire 500 people? Why didn’t he call the police in?

          • Come on Peachy, those board meetings are tough work… and sometimes, these people sit on more than one board – hard to keep up with all the goings on.

          • Yeah, I know. I’m much too tough on people sometimes.

            Like expecting them to do what they get paid for. Unreasonable. A communist thing to do.

          • Yes ok, knowing and having ought to know cam amount to the same failure, if true. But, der, you said why didn’t he sack blah blah, which implies he knew. Etc. Clearly you don’t know the facts so perhaps stop the misrepresentation and useless speculation.

          • Fien ginger, you’re right. He is a top bloke and did everything he could.

            You can line up over there with everyone else who wants to fellate him.

  6. I can’t help be cynical about the chest beating of the government given their endless deferral of the next tranch of money laundering laws. Akin to actively endorsing/promoting massive money laundering through property. Westpac have been very naughty but the govt. has no moral authority to condemn. The press should be also highlighting the govt’s negligence.

    • I can imagine Josh Frydenbergs conversation with Hartzer

      “I protected you during the Royal Banking Commission but I can’t save you from supporting pedo’s. Thats a step the voters won’t stand for”

    • proofreadersMEMBER

      Must have been very frustrating/annoying for ScoMo and Josh Rainbowberg not to be able to blame Labor, Labor, Labor for any part of this, because after all they keep telling us what seems like almost daily that Labor, Labor, Labor is to blame for every other problem that Straya has?

  7. Of course the LNP will see this as proof they should press on with banning cash. No, there’s no logic to it so it must be right.

  8. I don’t find it a coincidence that westpac closed on a capital raising of $2.5b just 2 weeks before Austracs announcement. They knew this was coming for a while. This is not an oversight or some software glitch that didn’t pick up on these transactions. This was known at the highest levels