07 Jun 2021

NAB advised of referral to AUSTRAC Enforcement Team

National Australia Bank Limited (NAB) has been informed by AUSTRAC it has identified serious concerns with NAB’s compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) Act 2006 and the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules 2007.

AUSTRAC advised NAB in a letter dated 4 June, 2021, that it is AUSTRAC’s view that there is “potential serious and ongoing non-compliance” with customer identification procedures, ongoing customer due diligence and compliance with Part A of NAB’s AML/CTF Program.

These concerns have been referred to AUSTRAC’s enforcement team, which has initiated a formal enforcement investigation.

In the letter to NAB, AUSTRAC stated that it has not made any decision about whether or not enforcement action would be taken. AUSTRAC stated that, at this stage, it is not considering civil penalty proceedings and that this decision is “reflective of the work undertaken” by NAB to date.

AUSTRAC’s referral to its enforcement team follows regular engagement by NAB with AUSTRAC over a long period of time, both to report issues and keep AUSTRAC informed of progress in uplifting and strengthening the Group’s AML/CTF Program.

NAB has disclosed the existence of AML/CTF compliance issues in various public disclosures since 2017, including most recently in NAB’s 2021 Half Year Financial Report
AUSTRAC has a wide range of enforcement options available to it, including civil penalty orders, enforceable undertakings, infringement notices and remedial directions.
NAB CEO Ross McEwan said NAB would continue to cooperate with AUSTRAC in its investigations.

“NAB takes its financial crime obligations seriously. We are very aware that we need to further improve our performance in relation to these matters. We have been working to improve and clearly have more to do,” Mr McEwan said.

“NAB has an important role in monitoring and reporting suspicious activity and keeping Australia’s financial system, our bank and our customers safe.

“It is a key priority for everyone at NAB to uplift our financial crime capabilities, minimise risk to customers and the bank, and improve operational performance. That’s why we are so focused on getting the basics right every time to protect our customers and our bank.”

Since June 2017, NAB has invested about $800 million as part of a multi-year program to uplift its financial crime and fraud controls and has more than 1,200 people dedicated to managing financial crime risks.

NAB’s ASX statement can be viewed here. This includes a copy of the letter sent by AUSTRAC.

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