Australia’s Commonwealth Bank agrees to pay $700 million fine

Australia’s Commonwealth Bank has agreed to pay a A$700 million fine to settle money laundering charges.

Last year Australia’s financial intelligence agency accused the bank of “serious and systemic non-compliance” of anti-money laundering laws involving thousands of transactions.

CommonwealthBank“The money laundered through the CBA accounts included the proceeds of drug and firearms importation and distribution syndicates – predominantly involving methamphetamine,” the court document said.

“Criminal syndicates rely upon money laundering syndicates to import and distribute their drugs.”

The amount Commonwealth Bank is being fined is a record penalty in Australia for money-laundering and terror finance breaches.

The bank admitted 53,506 breaches last year. The majority of the breaches were related to the bank’s deposit machines which allowed users to deposit up to A$20,000 in cash at a time.

Commonwealth Bank failed to provide Austrac (Australia’s financial intelligence agency) with timely reports for cash transactions of A$10,000 or more.

CBA blamed many of the breaches on a computer error which affected the ability of the machines to automatically report the large transactions.

“This agreement, while it still needs to be approved by the Federal Court, brings certainty to one of the most significant issues we have faced,” said Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Matt Comyn in a statement.

“While not deliberate, we fully appreciate the seriousness of the mistakes we made.

“Our agreement today is a clear acknowledgement of our failures and is an important step toward moving the bank forward. On behalf of Commonwealth Bank, I apologise to the community for letting them down.”