By Dan Byrne for AMLi
THE THIRD BIGGEST bank in Australia has been using untrained contractors in its financial crimes department, new information has suggested.
A joint report from Australian publications The Age in Melbourne and The Sydney Morning Herald has revealed that National Australia Bank has made “extensive” use of casual workers to meet compliance standards.
The report was based on the testimonies of some of these former workers – many of whom said that they had received little or no training for the role. One worker claimed that his superiors “just sort of chucked me into it.”
“It was just like sitting beside someone and listening into their calls,” they said.
Thorough training is usually required for a position with the AML team of a financial institution. This is now more true than ever as compliance standards in most developed nations continue to increase under the guidance of organisations like FATF and national regulators.
Consequently, the lack of such training in NAB’s case was a definite cause for alarm, according to former CEO Don Argus.
“I don’t have a problem with casualisation providing that they train their people,” he explained. “But if you put untrained people in any business, you will get a bum outcome.”
The news will only add to the outside pressure on NAB, which as recently as last week received a warning from the national FinCrime watchdog AUSTRAC over “potential serious and ongoing non-compliance issues” in relation to customer IDs, customer due diligence, among other things.
In a letter last Friday, AUSTRAC told the bank that it had “escalated” its investigation and that it would now be run directly by the agency’s own enforcement team.
Although insiders do not think that the investigation will result in penalties as it currently stands, the costs of fixing its compliance issues will likely provide a headache for the bank anyway.
Meanwhile, AUSTRAC has been ramping up its efforts to root out poor compliance performers elsewhere in recent months.
Aside from its warning to NAB, it has announced major investigations into casino operators SkyCity, Star Entertainment, and Crown Resorts – whose new Sydney casino was refused a licence earlier this year over poor governance and risk management.
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