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Narev prepares to leave Commonwealth Bank

When accusations of anti-money-laundering failures became the latest hit to Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s reputation, chief executive Ian Narev announced his retirement, but first he spoke to Euromoney about the challenges of banking in a market where everyone’s a critic.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s chief executive Ian Narev

“We are getting Australia’s version of the global zeitgeist about big business and big banking,” says Ian Narev, Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) chief executive officer. “And some aspects of that we’ve brought on ourselves, or at least made worse, and other aspects are our version of what’s been happening around the world.

“Either way, it’s something we’ve got to acknowledge and respond to.”

Narev was speaking to Euromoney in Commonwealth Bank’s Darling Park headquarters in Sydney on July 25. It’s fair to say he and his bank have faced a bit more of that zeitgeist since then.

On the positive side, in August the biggest bank in the southern hemisphere by market capitalization announced a A$9.88 billion profit, beating forecasts.

On the negative, it was accused of failing to report 53,000 suspicious transactions and therefore of violating the law 53,000 times, by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac), which is bringing a money-laundering court case against the bank.

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