Westpac Chief Executive Brian Hartzer will step down following accusations Australia’s second biggest bank committed 23 million breaches of the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. Picture: AP
Westpac Chief Executive Brian Hartzer will step down following accusations Australia’s second biggest bank committed 23 million breaches of the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. Picture: AP

Future Fund wants more Westpac scalps

CEO Brian Hartzer might have finally tendered his resignation on Monday, but the nightmare is far from over for Westpac.

Chairman Lindsay Maxsted also brought forward his retirement and risk and compliance chairman Ewen Crouch announced that he was stepping down, but for many of the bank's major shareholders, three scalps are simply not enough.

The $170 billion Future Fund has joined major Westpac investors in demanding that more of the bank's directors announce their swift departure and have asked for a guarantee that the likes of the current child exploitation scandal cannot happen again, threatening to force a spill of the entire board if Westpac does not comply.

 

Resigning Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted. Picture: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.
Resigning Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted. Picture: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.

A "second strike'' protest vote on its ­remuneration report could force the bank's hand if it does not meet with demands. If more than 25 per cent of investors lodge a protest vote against the company for the second time in two years, Mr Maxsted would be forced to put a board-spill resolution to shareholders.

Chief financial officer Peter King, who is due to retire next year, is temporarily taking over from Mr Hartzer, with an international search for a new CEO due to start after Westpac's annual general meeting on December 12.

 

Westpac acting CEO Peter King. Picture: Jane Dempster/The Australian
Westpac acting CEO Peter King. Picture: Jane Dempster/The Australian

Mr Hartzer finally stepped down on Tuesday following a report in The Australian that revealed details of Mr Hartzer's closed door meeting with senior executives on Monday, in which he said that Westpac's current woes were "not an Enron or Lehman Brothers'' and that "we don't need to overcook this''as most Australians would not be overly concerned with the money laundering and child exploitation scandal.

In lieu of his 12-month notice period, Mr Hartzer will be paid $2.7 million but will forgo up to $22 million in bonuses.

AUSTRAC alleges that Westpac breached anti-money laundering laws 23 million times, including failing to adequately vet thousands of payments potentially linked to child exploitation. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
AUSTRAC alleges that Westpac breached anti-money laundering laws 23 million times, including failing to adequately vet thousands of payments potentially linked to child exploitation. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Senior figures on both sides of politics had condemned the bank in light of Austrac's findings, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying the board needed to reflect "very deeply" on whether or not people needed to be ousted, and Peter Dutton accusing the bank of "giving a free pass to paedophiles."

Earlier this week, opposition leader Anthony Albanese said "the buck does stop with the CEO [Brian Hartzer] and with the board and up to now frankly the response has been completely inadequate."


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