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Bravehearts to cut ties with Westpac in wake of alleged child exploitation failures

November 21, 2019

Bravehearts will cease banking with Westpac following allegations it ignored repeated warnings that suspected paedophiles were using its services to pay online providers in Asia to commit and livestream sexual offences against children.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston AM has slammed the institution after financing regulator Austrac launched action against the organisation for over 23 million alleged breaches of law. 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 she was disgusted by claims that Braveheart’s major banking partner had repeatedly ignored their obligations to innocent children caught in situations most of us could not even imagine, including live-streaming of user-directed child sex shows and offering children for sex.

“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,” she said.

“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.

“It’s hard to find the words to describe how horrified we are by such claims,” Ms Johnston said.

“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.

“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.”


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