Westpac begins search for new CIO and consumer chief exec

Amid Austrac investigations, the bank has also created a new group executive to fill a financial crime, compliance, and conduct role.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Westpac Banking Corporation has announced the hunt for a new chief information officer, with Craig Bright leaving the red and white bank to take up a new role overseas.

Bright took on the CIO role in January 2019, following the departure of Dave Curran. Curran led the bank's technology function since 2014.

Prior to joining Westpac, Bright was chief technology officer for Citi's Global Consumer Banking, and previously served as the bank's managing director for Global Consumer Infrastructure in New York. Prior to this, he was global head of Infrastructure and Service Delivery with Barclays; NAB's general manager for technology banking and CIO for Institutional Markets and Services; and also served with Ernst and Young for nearly seven years.

Also leaving the bank is David Lindberg, who is currently serving as its Consumer Division chief executive.

"Mr Lindberg made significant progress on improving customer satisfaction and the digital experience, while Mr Bright improved the capability of the Bank's technology infrastructure, implemented the Customer Service Hub and achieved significant efficiencies in vendor services," the bank told shareholders on Tuesday.

Westpac said an international search has commenced for Bright and Lindberg's replacements.

Westpac in November lost its CEO Brian Hartzer, following issues raised by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac).

The anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regulator applied to the Federal Court of Australia alleging Westpac was involved in "systemic non-compliance" with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act) on over 23 million occasions.

Specifically, Austrac said the bank had consistently failed to: Assess and monitor ongoing money laundering and terrorism financing risks; report over 19.5 million International Funds Transfer Instructions (IFTIs) to Austrac over nearly five years for transfers both into and out of Australia; pass on information about the source of funds to other banks in the transfer chain; keep records relating to the origin of some of these international funds transfers; and carry out appropriate customer due diligence on transactions in the Philippines and South East Asia that were related to potential child exploitation risks.

After setting aside just over AU$1 billion for Austrac proceedings in its half-year financial results -- comprising a provision for a potential penalty of AU$900 million and AU$127 million for a response plan -- the bank on Tuesday also announced the creation of a new group executive role to allow chief risk officer David Stephen to focus on financial risk.

As Westpac's group executive of financial crime, compliance, and conduct, Les Vance will be responsible for overseeing the group's financial crime, compliance, and conduct management.

Vance is currently chief operating officer of Westpac's Consumer Division and the bank touted his 25 years' executive experience across line management, transformation and program delivery, operations, and risk and governance.

"Les is a thoughtful and energetic executive who will bring a forensic approach to improving and strengthening Westpac's financial crime and compliance management," CEO Peter King said.

"Westpac has made significant progress in improving its financial crime capability and I am confident Les will continue to build on this platform of work. His deep understanding of the bank and risk management will help us further strengthen our management of non-financial risk. Les will bring his considerable experience, knowledge and integrity to his new role."


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