Westpac confirmed that it has been served with a class action filed by Australian law firm Phi Finney McDonald on behalf of certain shareholders who acquired an interest in Westpac shares between December 16, 2013, and November 19, 2019.

The claim relates to market disclosure issues connected to Westpac's monitoring of financial crime over the relevant period and matters which are the subject of the recent Austrac proceeding.

The claim does not identify the amount of any damages sought.

Westpac said it would defend the claims.


A bank spokesperson said New Zealand investors who acquired shares on the NZX during the claim period are included in the class action as group members.

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Australian media said Phi Finney McDonald, a specialist class action law firm, had been approached by institutional investors from around the world.

The firm has separate shareholder actions under way against the Commonwealth Bank and AMP after the Hayne Royal Commission, which delivered a damning report on the Australian finance sector early this year.

Last month, Australia's anti money-laundering and terrorism financing regulator Austrac applied to the Federal Court for civil penalty orders against Westpac, alleging more than 23 million contraventions of the law.

This week, Australia's banking watchdog, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, ordered Westpac to set aside an additional A$500 million ($521) in capital as an investigation gets under way that could end in hefty fines against the 200-year-old bank.