Westpac half-year profits tumble more than 60 per cent

SYDNEY (AFP) – Westpac announced yesterday its half-year net profit had fallen 62 per cent, making it the latest Australian bank to see profits dive during the coronavirus crisis.

The bank reported a profit of AUD1.19 billion (USD760 million) in the first half of the financial year, down 62 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

Westpac Group CEO Peter King said the bank had set aside AUD2.24 billion in impairment charges, including AUD1.6 billion to tackle the impact of the virus and AUD900 million for a potential penalty from financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC.

The regulator has accused Westpac of committing 23 million breaches of money laundering and counterterrorism rules in “serious and systemic” law-breaking involving more than AUD11 billion.

“This is the most difficult result Westpac has seen in many years,” King said.

People walk past a Westpac bank sign in Melbourne’s central business district. PHOTO: AFP