Westpac fears customers walk out over scandal
Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted fears customers could walk out on the nation's oldest bank in the wake of its paedophile money scandal.
After days of turmoil which resulted in chief executive officer Brian Hartzer falling on his sword nearly one week after the scandal broke, the bank now faces the risk of customers exiting.
Mr Maxsted fronted the media without chief executive officer Brian Hartzer, who remains in the job until Monday, by his side.
The chairman repeatedly said the bank was "deeply remorseful" following the disaster.
"There may be customers who leave the bank because of the allegations and what has happened and what we have facilitated," Mr Maxsted said.
"I hope when they are talking to our people we understand that we feel so remorseful."
But he failed to explain Mr Hartzer's whereabouts and why he wasn't at the press conference that was held three hours after he stepped down.
"In terms of Brian today this is about the future, going forward and how we are going to run the bank in the future and how you and others should feel confident in that," Mr Maxsted said.
The decision to quit came just after 8am on Tuesday followed horrendous revelations in News Corp's sister publication, The Australian, that Mr Hartzer in a closed-door meeting on Monday night said that, "actually for people in mainstream Australia going about their daily lives, this is not a major issue so we don't need to overcook this".
In the financial intelligence watchdog's AUSTRAC statement of claim filed in the Federal Court include it including allegations Westpac failed to properly monitoring international fund transfers which enabled child exploitation in the Philippines and southeast Asia.
It resulted in 23 million breaches.
Latest Westpac figures showed they have 14.2 million customers, hold $525 billion in customer deposits, $152 billion in total business lending and $449 billion in total home lending.
Hartzer will walk out the door on December 2 with a healthy $2.7 million termination payment that's equivalent to one year's base pay.
Current chief financial officer Peter King has taken over as acting CEO and current chief operating officer Gary Thursby will act as chief financial officer.
Mr Maxsted confirmed he would bring forward his retirement as chairman in the first half of next year.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also weighed in and said the new legal regime that holds bad behaviour by the banks to account could be used in the Westpac payments scandal.
Mr Maxsted on Tuesday said they "had no knowledge in advance" of the AUSTRAC allegations until the received an email from them on November 15.
Last year the Commonwealth Bank agreed to pay $700 million and legal costs to resolve proceedings by AUSTRAC after they admitted to breaking anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws.
National Australia Bank has also previously reported a number of breaches anti-money laundering breaches to AUSTRAC dating back to 2017.
While ANZ said it was not aware of any impending against them by AUSTRAC.
The Finance Sector Union of Australia's national assistant secretary Nathan Rees said thousands of workers at the bank were "deeply distressed by these allegations".
"They are angry, that yet again, decisions made by the Westpac board and executive are not reflective of community expectations," he said.
"In recent days the FSU has raised serious concerns about a Westpac proposal to offshore 16 jobs to the Philippines."