Deborah Knight, Nine News Sydney: Cat calls, heckling and a barrage of criticism.
The Westpac board copped it all today at a fiery AGM in Sydney, as investors unleashed their anger over the scandal that could cost the bank billions.
Ross Greenwood: The deep-seated anger of Westpac shareholders was clear to see –
Anne Buckley, Shareholder: I could have a crack at the big CEO at the way they have carried on.
Greenwood: There was of course a heartfelt apology
Lindsay Maxsted, Outgoing Westpac Chairman: We are devastated that anyone, anyone, could have been exposed to the risk of harm as a result of a failing by Westpac. For this, we are truly sorry.
Greenwood: But for most…it fell on deaf ears.
Shareholder: Words of apology are cheap
Greenwood: All Chairman Lindsay Maxsted and the board could do was sit, with stoney-faces, silently copping it.
Shareholder: I suggest that you being here in an affront.
Greenwood: the scandal has seen $8 billion wiped from Westpac’s share value.
It arose from 23 million alleged breaches of anti-money laundering reporting rules.
Those lapses allowed paedophiles to send money to the Philippines to exploit children.
The penalties could cost the bank billions.
Westpac is Australia’s oldest bank and Lindsay Maxsted, the chairman, one of the most respected directors in the country, said he will go in the next six months.
But for those, these shareholders for the first time, get the chance to ask how did things go so wrong, so quickly.
Among the fiercest critics, ex-Labor Senator Chris Schacht. He was a part of a committee that helped start anti-money laundering agency AUSTRAC.
Chris Schacht, Former Labor Senator: I, like many others, will ask for over the next year all the board members over the next year to resign orderly
Greenwood: Despite the blast that lasted most of the day, the board survived but only just.
Enough shareholders voted down the directors pay deal to get another vote on a board spill.
But they survived.
The basting though will last long, in their ears.
Shareholder: You all should go…you all should go.
Greenwood: Ross Greenwood, Nine News