BPI halts use of LitePay following Westpac’s money laundering case

BPI - BPI halts use of LitePay following Westpac’s money laundering caseBANK of the Philippine Islands is already investigating the matter. — BW FILE PHOTO

BANK OF THE Philippines Islands (BPI) will suspend its partnership with the remittance arm of Westpac Banking Corp. after the Australian lender got involved in a money laundering scandal.

“We have suspended indefinitely our use of the LitePay facility and have asked Westpac to provide us detailed information about suspicious and possibly illegal transactions that may have been coursed through us,” BPI Corporate Affairs and Communications Enterprises Services Segment Head Owen L. Cammayo said in a text message on Tuesday.

“We are prepared to work with regulators and authorities to ensure compliance with both domestic and global money laundering laws and regulations,” Mr. Cammayo said.

Sought for comment, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier said: “BPI is still in the process of conducting its own internal investigation.”

Bloomberg reported on Monday that while the local bank has started the probe on the matter, BPI could have “limited visibility” on where the money likely ended up as destination banks for the funds may not necessarily be BPI.

In late November, LitePay became the center of what is allegedly Australia’s biggest dirty money scandal, with its parent bank Westpac said to have breached money-laundering laws more than 23 million times.

According to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald, a big chunk of the said breaches were transacted by people with online purchases or are recipients of a pension from a foreign country.

Westpac Chief Executive Brian Hartzer has already stepped down in light of the said incident and ahead of the bank’s annual general meeting on Dec. 12 where an independent review into the bank’s accountability will take place. — Luz Wendy T. Noble

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