The “battle-hardened” new Westpac chairman, banking veteran John McFarlane, says his immediate priority will be to resolve the money-laundering scandal that threw the country’s oldest bank into a crisis, vowing make the changes needed.
Westpac on Thursday morning confirmed Mr McFarlane, a former chief executive of ANZ Bank, had been chosen as its new chairman, replacing Lindsay Maxsted, who is stepping down early.
Mr McFarlane, who is 72 and had recently returned to Australia after chairing various United Kingdom financial institutions, said he had not initially planned to take on another major leadership role. But he said he was “excited” by the challenge of helping Westpac recover after it was last year rocked by a lawsuit alleging 23 million breaches of anti-money laundering laws.
“To some extent, the internal and external challenges ahead for Westpac are not dissimilar to those in my last five financial institutions, and I have therefore grown comfortable about my capacity to work with the board and management to effect the necessary change,” Mr McFarlane said in a statement.
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Westpac shares are down 0.4 per cent to $25.045 today.