Woodsford is pleased to be the funder behind the largest ever securities class action in Australia, recently filed by the law firm Phi Finney McDonald against Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac) relating to its alleged breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) legislation.

The class action was brought in the Federal Court of Australia’s Victorian District Registry on behalf of all persons that acquired Westpac shares from 16 December 2013 to 19 November 2019. The action covers shares acquired on the Australian Securities Exchange and the New Zealand Stock Exchange, as well as American Depository Receipts traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

The class action alleges that Westpac breached its continuous disclosure obligations, and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, by failing to inform investors that it:

1. failed to adequately assess the ML/TF risks associated with using its Australian Cash Management and LitePay systems for international transfers;

2. was not undertaking appropriate due diligence on customers making financial transactions falling within the typologies indicative of child exploitation;

3. did not report in a timely manner over 19 million International Fund Transfer Instructions (IFTIs) to AUSTRAC (an Australian government financial intelligence agency set up to monitor financial transactions to identify money laundering, organised crime, tax evasion, welfare fraud and terrorism);

4. failed to collate and pass on to relevant agencies proscribed information about international transfers which would otherwise enable scrutiny to identify potential ML/TF activity; and

5. had deficient systems for identifying and managing ML/TF risk.

This high-profile case has already enjoyed significant coverage in the Australian media and beyond:

If you acquired Westpac securities between 16 December 2013 and 19 November 2019 (inclusive), please email westpac@pfm.law to register and obtain more information about the class action.