Westpac appoints Peter King as CEO

2 April 2020, Written by Business News Australia

Westpac appoints Peter King as CEO

Long-term Westpac (ASX: WBC) executive Peter King (pictured) has been appointed CEO today for a period of two years.

King, who was appointed as acting CEO of Westpac in December 2019, has 25 years of experience at the bank.

Westpac chairman John McFarlane says King's appointment will provide the necessary management stability and strength needed to see the bank through the Covid-19 crisis.

"I believe we need a Chief Executive in place now, not later, and with full, rather than acting authority," says McFarlane.

"[King] understands the bank, its business and its finances, and has the confidence of the management team, as well as my own and that of the Board."

"He is the right person to take the company forward at the present time, and now has the full authority to make change and see it through."

In his 25 years at Westpac King has held senior roles including Chief Financial Officer since 2014. King retired from the CFO position in September 2019.

Prior to this he was Deputy Chief Financial Officer for three years and held senior positions across the bank including in Group Finance, Business and Consumer Banking, Business and Technology Services, Treasury and Financial Markets

The appointment is for a two year fixed term at an initial base salary of $2.4 million which will be reviewed annually.

King says his priority right now is to see the bank through the Covid-19 crisis.

"We are focused on responding to the Covid-19 outbreak and supporting our customers and protecting our people," says King.

"We have a critical role to play alongside Government and regulators in supporting Australians and New Zealanders and our countries' financial systems.

"My medium-term priorities remain to drive performance through our lines of business and sharper accountability, simplify the business through digital transformation, and lift our service culture and risk capability."

Former Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer and chairman Lindsay Maxstead stepped down in November following legal controversy surrounding the bank.

Regulatory group AUSTRAC alleged that the bank contravened the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act) on more than 23 million occasions.

The corporate regulator claimed that Westpac failed to report over 19.5 million international funds transfer instructions to AUSTRAC over a period of nearly five years, and failed to carry out proper due diligence on transactions in South East Asia that have known financial hallmarks relating to potential child exploitation risks.

AUSTRAC's allegations led to both Australian law firm Phi Finney McDonald and US law firm Rosen Law Firm launching class actions against the bank to recover damages for investors.

The Board and CEO have decided CEO and Group Executive annual bonuses for 2020 will be cancelled, in recognition of collective accountability for the financial crime outcomes in Westpac's business which led to action brought by AUSTRAC.

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