PH agencies to probe Australia’s oldest bank over exploitation of Filipino children

The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) is now teaming up with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate reports that Australia’s oldest bank Westpac Banking Corp. allowed a dozen customers to funnel money to southeast Asian nations like the Philippines to pay for child pornography and sexual abuse.

“IACAT is coordinating with AMLC on this matter,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in message.

Also, Guevarra divulged that AMLC has already coordinating with Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) following the arrest of an Australian last month for alleged involvement in online sexual exploitation of Filipino children.

“In the ensuing coordination between the Philippine and Australian Police, it was discovered that Westpac (Australian bank) was also informed,” Guevarra said.

Financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC alleges that Westpac failed to identify 3057 suspicious transactions, totalling $497,612 over a six-year period.

In all these instances Westpac should have notified AUSTRAC that the money transferred across its LitePay and other platforms was “indicative of child exploitation”.

LitePay, established as a low-cost way to move money out of Australia, had been used to launder money, exploit children and perhaps even finance terrorism.

AUSTRAC’s statement of claim also rolls out some very large numbers for money going the other way.

It says in the five years to September 2018 more than $11 billion was transferred into Australia and Westpac knows nothing about the ultimate source of this money.

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