There’s a weird sort of dissonance in today’s Australian Financial Review.
On the front page, CBA CEO Ian Narev argues that CBA culture is “strong”.
Meanwhile, a detailed Neil Chenoweth feature breaks down how AUSTRAC thinks CBA was regularly breaching the very well-known legal requirement to report all cash transactions above $10,000. AUSTRAC has counted 53,506 breaches, an amount which in technical banking language is known as “a truckload”. Real crooks seem to have been behind a number of these breaches, using techniques such as “cuckoo smurfing“. And six of the breaches related to customers the bank itself had identified as posing terrorism risks.
The most damning aspect of the chronology is how long it took the CBA to react once problems in its systems became clear. The AUSTRAC account suggests that after realising its errors in April 2015, CBA went on failing to report suspicious transfers until January of this year. All this screams “governance failure”.
In The CEO Magazine today I suggest that this latest issue at an already scandal-prone bank poses a challenge to the broader business community. If that community wants its own claims taken seriously, it needs to have something to say about this sort of corporate misbehaviour. In this case, as in many others, that may not be easy, because investigations and legal action tend to be drawn out. But it needs to happen. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.
(This and other CEO Magazine columns are here; follow me on Twitter @shorewalker1.)