29th November 2019

Westpac CEO steps down amid money laundering scandal

In the wake of the AUSTRAC Statement of Claim, Westpac’s Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Brian Hartzer is stepping down, with current Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Peter King taking over as acting CEO, effective 2 December. Current Chief Operating Officer, Gary Thursby will act as CFO.

Mr Hartzer said: “As CEO I accept that I am ultimately accountable for everything that happens at the Bank. And it is clear that we have fallen well short of what the community expects of us, and we expect of ourselves.”

In addition, long-standing Director, Ewen Crouch has decided he will not seek re-election at the upcoming Westpac AGM. Mr Maxsted has also confirmed he will bring forward his retirement as Chairman to the first half of 2020.

“The Board accepts the gravity of the issues raised by AUSTRAC,” Mr Maxsted said. “As was appropriate, we sought feedback from all our stakeholders including shareholders and having done so it became clear that Board and management changes were in the best interest of the Bank.

“Peter King has been appointed Acting CEO until a global search process for a new CEO is completed. Peter has had a long and distinguished career at Westpac and has been the CFO since 2014. He is the right choice to provide stability and direction to the Bank and its people.

“He is an executive of exceptional integrity who is deeply respected by the market and the entire Westpac team. The Board has asked Peter to focus on two immediate priorities: to implement the Westpac Response Plan and to continue to execute the Group’s broader strategy.

“We are determined to urgently fix these issues and lift our standards to ensure our anti-money laundering and other financial crime prevention processes are industry leading. We are currently working through our response to the Statement of Claim and will shortly commence the independent review. The Board will continue to provide updates on these issues."