Govt applauds AUSTRAC for nailing CBA

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics Correspondent
The federal government has applauded the speedy settlement of AUSTRAC's case against CBA

A $700 million settlement between financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC and Commonwealth Bank of Australia over money laundering has been welcomed by the federal government.

Under the deal CBA, which has admitted to 53,506 breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws, will also see it pay $2.5 million in legal fees, subject to Federal Court approval.

"I congratulate AUSTRAC, its CEO and legal team for their engagement with me which has enabled this matter to be resolved in such a successful and speedy way," Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said in a statement on Monday.

Home Affairs Peter Dutton said CBA's disregard of its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism obligations had allowed criminals to exploit its systems and put the Australian community at risk.

"This very large number of breaches over several years is unacceptable and should never have been allowed to happen," Mr Dutton said.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the law was non-negotiable, especially when it came to the country's largest financial institutions.

"The government is serious about enforcing any breaches," he said.

"Banks should be leaders in ensuring their systems cannot be compromised by criminals seeking to launder money or finance terrorist activities."

Labor opposition assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said the size of the fine reflected the gravity of CBA's wrongdoing.

"Again it reinforces the call we have been making for the last two years for a royal commission," Dr Leigh told Sky News.

"We have seen from CBA alone, scandals ranging from children's bank accounts to charging dead people for work that hadn't been done."