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APRA fines Westpac for failing to meet legal reporting requirements

Wednesday 28 August 2019

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has served infringement notices on Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac) and two of its subsidiaries for failing to meet their legal obligations to report data to APRA.

Westpac, along with two of its registered financial corporations (RFCs), St George Finance Holdings Limited and Capital Finance Australia Limited, breached the requirements of the Financial Sector (Collection of Data) Act 2001 (FSCODA) by failing to report data by the required deadlines. Westpac was up to 20 days late in filing its reports for the month ending 31 March 2019 under the Economic and Financial Statistics program, which were due on 1 May. The two RFCs missed the same deadline by up to 37 days. 

The RFCs were also up to 28 days late in submitting their reports for the month ending 30 April 2019. Additionally, all three Westpac entities were between 9 and 28 days late in filing their reports for the quarter ending 31 March 2019, which were due on 10 May 2019.

 
Failure to submit monthly or quarterly returns within the timeframes specified by APRA’s reporting standards is a strict liability offence.

APRA sent show cause notices to the Westpac entities on 22 July seeking their responses to APRA’s intention to serve them with infringement notices over the FSCODA breaches. After assessing Westpac’s responses, APRA has decided to proceed with the issuing of infringement notices.

Under the terms of the infringement notices, APRA requires the Westpac entities to pay a cumulative penalty of $1,501,500. This is the maximum financial penalty APRA can issue for infringement notices under FSCODA. 

APRA Deputy Chair John Lonsdale said APRA’s reporting standards were legally binding in the same way as its prudential standards. 

“Access to accurate and timely data is critical for APRA to monitor effectively the safety and stability of the banking, insurance and superannuation sectors.”

“By issuing these infringement notices, APRA wants to send a strong message to industry that compliance with our reporting standards is mandatory, and cannot be considered secondary to other business priorities,” Mr Lonsdale said.

The Westpac entities have until 6 September to pay the fines imposed by the infringement notices.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is the prudential regulator of the financial services industry. It oversees banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance and reinsurance companies, life insurance, private health insurers, friendly societies, and most members of the superannuation industry. APRA currently supervises institutions holding $6 trillion in assets for Australian depositors, policyholders and superannuation fund members.