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Bikie, cartel links for Australian banks

LABOR has used claims of money laundering by bikies and Mexican drug cartels using Australia's big banks to renew calls for a Royal Commission into the sector.

Details of a police investigation were exposed in a Fairfax media investigation, revealing the big four banks - Westpac, ANZ, NAB, and CBA - were all implicated in money laundering scams by organised crime gangs. Other mid-tier banks are also reportedly involved.

The report claims crime syndicates exploited weak laws to open accounts or deposit money with minimal or false identification, allowing them to move around up to $5 million in drug money a day.

The report claims to expose gaping holes in the banks' anti-money laundering systems. An investigation by anti-money laundering agency Austrac into the Commonwealth Bank exposed an alleged lack of oversight into money flows by the bank, but the latest revelations support suspicions questionable practices are widespread.

Senior Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the revelations were "another argument for a Royal Commission".

"We need a banking royal commission and I don't know why the government is resisting this. It will happen, let's get on with it," he told Nine's Today.

The opposition ramped up long-running calls for a large scale inquiry into Australia's banking sector following claims of the Commonwealth Bank's money laundering scandal last month, and has accused the government of letting the public down by resisting it.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said a royal commission would be "a complete waste of time".

"If there was a royal commission into money laundering by the mafia through the banks, it would take years and years and years to report and to do anything," he said.

"The last thing we need is a royal commission. We just need the police and the people, the officials who look after fraud, to do their job, and I am sure that is what they are going to do."

Amy Kadel, David Stuart, Kieran Salsone

Key claims in the police investigation, according to Fairfax, include an outlaw bikie considering acquiring a branch of a mid-tier bank, and a Bank of Queensland branch being closed down following a money-laundering operation by a Mexican drug cartel.

The report also identified a number of cases of Hong Kong nationals exploiting the banks to launder up to $29 million in drug money.

One man was reportedly able to open two accounts while listing the casino as his address, and proceeded to make deposits of up to $50,000, on one occasion making 17 deposits of $9,500 or under in one day.

Topics:  banking banks bikies editors picks money laundering

News Corp Australia

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