Chairman Lindsay Maxsted also brought forward his retirement and risk and compliance chairman Ewen Crouch stepped down, but for many of the bank’s major shareholders, three scalps are simply not enough.
The $170bn Future Fund has joined major Westpac investors in demanding that more of the bank’s directors announce their swift departure and asking for guarantee that the likes of the current child exploitation cannot happen again, threatening to force a spill of the entire board if Westpac does not comply.
A “second strike’’ protest vote on its remuneration report could force the bank’s hand if it does not meet with demands. If more than 25 per cent of investors lodge a protest vote against the company for the second time in two years, Mr Maxsted would be forced to put a board-spill resolution to shareholders.
Chief financial officer Peter King, who is due to retire next year, is temporarily taking over from Mr Hartzer, with an international search for a new CEO due to start after Westpac’s annual general meeting on December 12.
Mr Hartzer finally stepped down on Tuesday following a report in The Australian that revealed details of Mr Hartzer’s closed door meeting with senior executives on Monday, in which he said that Westpac’s current woes was “not an Enron or Lehman Brothers’’, and that “we don’t need to overcook this’’ as most Australians would not be overly concerned about the money laundering and child exploitation scandal. In lieu of his 12-month notice period, Mr Hartzer will be paid $2.7 million, but will forgo up to $22 million in bonuses.
Senior figures on both sides of politics had condemned the bank, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying the board needed to reflect “very deeply” on whether or not people needed to be ousted, and Peter Dutton accusing the bank of “giving a free pass to paedophiles.”
“The buck does stop with the CEO (Brian Hartzer) and with the board and up to now frankly the response has been completely inadequate,” said opposition leader Anthony Albanese earlier this week.