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Australian banks among most fined

Australian banks have taken the inauspicious title of second most fined in the world for 2020, according to new data.

The research from Finbold found that US banks had to pay the most in fines of anywhere in the world - with 12 fines against US banks adding up to US$11.11 billion.

The largest of those went to Goldman Sachs, fined $3.9 billion by Malaysian regulators over the 1MDB scandal. Goldman was hit with a further $2 billion fine from US regulators for its role in underwriting 1MDB bonds.

The second largest US fine was $3 billion, handed to Wells Fargo after it was revealed the bank had set up millions of fake accounts.

Australian banks came in second place, with just three fines managing to add up to US$981 million.

That figure was mostly made up of Westpac's record $1.3 billion (US$910 million) fine, handed down after an AUSTRAC investigation found the bank had breached anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing law.

The other two Australian bank fines in 2020 both went to National Australia Bank. One was $57.5 million in the fees for no service scandal and the second was $15 million for credit law breaches.

Israel was in third place, although just one fine was handed down to Israeli banks last year.

That fine was US$902.5 million, handed down to Bank Hapoalim - Israel's largest bank - after it admitted to helping US customers evade taxes in illegal offshore accounts for more than a decade and that it laundered money as part of an international soccer bribery scheme.

Four fines handed to Swedish banks adding up to US$539 million saw the country in fourth place on the most fined list.

The largest of those fines went to Swedbank, which was penalised by US$425 million after it was alleged to have processed billions of Euros in transactions in Estonia for Russian non-residents, allegedly failing to prevent money laundering as it expanded operations in the Baltics.

China had the second most banks fined in 2020, but by dollar amount it came in eighth. A total of seven Chinese banks were fined in 2020, but they only paid US$83 million.

Read more: Goldman SachsBank HapoalimFinboldNational Australia BankSwedbankWells FargoWestpac
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