How Will ASX Banks Like BOQ (ASX:BOQ) Avoid AUSTRAC Issues?

ASX banks such as Bank of Queensland (ASX: BOQ) will be questioned in Canberra today about how they will avoid a Westpac (ASX: WBC) style mess up.

BOQ is one of Australia’s leading ‘regional’ banks with more than 180 branches throughout Australia. Unlike many other banks, many of BOQ’s branches are run by their ‘owner-managers’, who are effectively small business owners. Most of BOQ’s loans are mortgages.

What’s Happening Today In Canberra?

For the past week we’ve been seeing the fallout from Westpac not correctly reporting some international transfers to AUSTRAC.

Parliamentary hearings today in Canberra will hear from BOQ, Macquarie (ASX: MQG), Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (ASX: BEN) and Suncorp (ASX: SUN) about how they won’t face the same issues Westpac has, according to reporting by the Australian Financial Review.

BOQ is particularly in focus because the regional bank has already disclosed that it may have had some issues with potential compliance contraventions. The bank came to this conclusion when provided with a compliance assessment from AUSTRAC last December.

To try to avoid any future problems, BOQ is working on its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing program, which unavoidably meant investing in systems.

The other banks that are going to face MPs today, being Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Suncorp and Macquarie haven’t disclosed any AUSTRAC issues.

The AFR quoted Committee Chairman MP Tim Wilson: “It’s a pretty simple expectation: banks should not knowingly facilitate money laundering whatever their size, they should have regimes in place to identify it and stop it, and when identified it should be reported.”

One of the other issues to be discussed is what level of regulations will be applied to different sized banks. Labor members want to consider what the appropriate level of regulation is without it being too expensive and retaining the current level of competition.

At the time of publishing, Jaz does not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned.

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