Australian child protection group Bravehearts has severed ties with Westpac, over allegations the banking giant failed to act on warnings suspected paedophiles were using its service to pay for child exploitation.
Bravehearts Founder Hetty Johnston confirmed the Gold Coast based charity had distanced itself from their major banking partner in a statement this morning, revealing she was “disgusted” by claims Westpac had allegedly repeatedly ignored obligations to innocent children.
It comes after financing regulator Austrac launched action against the organisation for over 23 million alleged breaches of law.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
This includes the bank allowing suspected paedophiles to allegedly use its services to make more than 3000 transactions worth almost $500,000 despite senior management having been specifically briefed as far back as 2016 on risks linked to payments that could involve child exploitation.
“Over 3000 transactions translates to over 3000 occasions where a child endured unimaginable, yet preventable, sexual and physical trauma while seemingly Westpac didn’t care enough to undertake their regulatory oversight,” Ms Johnston said.
“Just when you think you’ve heard it all, along comes a bank apparently so nonchalant, indifferent and negligent that they knowingly ignore organised and savage sexual attacks against children.
“The Royal Commission into child sex abuse has shown what happens when powerful organisations turn the other cheek and Westpac appears to have done just that in its relentless pursuit of profit.”
Ms Johnston said it was hard to find the words to describe how “horrified” she was by the claims.
“If people could see what’s happening to these children, they would realise why we are so angry that a bank could even consider not prioritising their safety. It’s despicable behaviour,” she said.
“Child sexual assault and exploitation happens in the darkest of corners and Westpac had an opportunity to shine a light on it. Instead they showed an unbelievable and inhumane disinterest.
“There are rules and regulations in place so this doesn’t happen but it seems Westpac has opted to ignore them. Every organisation has to take responsibility for protecting our children and if Westpac hasn’t been doing that, we simply can’t keep banking with them.”