SYDNEY, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Up to 5 million Australian dollars (4 million U.S. dollars) is being laundered every day through Australian banking institutions by organized crime syndicates, according to leaked information that was reported by local media on Friday.
In August, The Australian Transactions Reports & Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) launched a civil case with the federal court that claimed the country's largest financial institution, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), breached anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.
Similar staggering allegation, now appear to be widespread across all major banks according to unnamed government officials who said "the public would be shocked to know the amount of drug money that was laundered on a daily basis, and the ease with which it finds its way out of Australia."
Westpac Bank, ANZ and the National Australia Bank (NAB) along with the CBA, have all been accused of failing to safeguard against money laundering syndicates.
But even Australia's smaller banks have had their run-ins with financial investigators when it comes to breaching these regulations.
The Bank of Queensland's Punchbowl branch in Sydney was forced to close in 2010, after it was uncovered, a Mexican cartel was using the premises to wash drug money.
Another smaller institution, the Bendigo Bank, was also found to be involved in the international movement of blackmarket cash in 2012, when the Australian Crime Commission's "High Risk Funds" investigation, found historic links with the former Yugoslavia.
Former National Coordinator of the Criminal Asset Confiscation Taskforce, Nick McTaggart, told local media that the main reason for the failures in preventing money laundering is due to the lack of information sharing between financial institutions, government departments and the policing sector.
"Most financial institutions are just ticking the compliance boxes rather than doing the necessary due diligence," McTaggart said.
"Technologies such as electronic funds transfer capability also present huge problems."
"Any criminal can get a company created today and bounce all the money into one account and then send it offshore and walk away from the company, and no one will ask questions of the company for months."
As a result of the seemingly lapse processes, many in political circles have called for a thorough an intensive investigation to uncover what can be done to tighten financial sector regulations.
Leader of the opposition in Australian Parliament, Bill Shorten, has campaigned for a full royal commission with broad, wide reaching powers to examine the practices of the country's banks.
But some fear a major public inquiry could spell trouble on the Australian share market and create shockwaves among investors.
"I think everybody would be happy if the defence against money laundering was tightened as much as is reasonably possible," CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner told Xinhua.
"Just a money laundering inquiry itself would not be seen as a huge concern at this stage."
"But If there was a wider royal commission that looked at the banks in general, that would be more of a concern because it would create a lot of uncertainty for investors."
In response to the allegations leveled at the banking sector, NAB's chief risk officer David Gall told local media that "people with bad intentions will always try to commit crime."
"That's why as a bank and an industry we have to always be vigilant and work with regulators, government and police to find new and smarter ways to prevent financial crime." Enditem