Own Westpac (ASX: WBC) shares? Here’s why the bank is making news

An old-fashioned news boy stands on a stool and yells through a microphone in an open field.

The Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) share price is down today despite no announcements from the company this month.

However, the bank has hit many a headline as one of its directors is caught up in the Pandora Papers. While the news probably hasn’t moved Westpac’s stock, it may put some heat on one of its leaders.

At the time of writing, the Westpac share price is $25.63, 1.23% lower than its previous close.

That’s pretty much in line with the broader market’s movements today. Right now, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is down 0.92%. At the same time, the All Ordinaries Index (ASX: XAO) is down 1.07%.

Let’s take a closer look at the news that’s got many talking about Westpac.

But first, what are the Pandora Papers?

For those who haven’t been following the drama surrounding the Pandora Papers, here’s a brief recap.

The Pandora Papers are a collection of leaked files documenting tax havens and hidden assets of some members of the global elite.

According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – the body that received the papers and dished them out to 150 media outlets – the papers detail some of the financial behaviour of more than 130 billionaires.

They also implicate more than 330 politicians and public officials from more than 90 countries, including the leaders of more than 35 nations.

One Australian who has been implicated by the leak is Westpac director Steven Harker.

Westpac’s director in the spotlight

The Westpac share price is sliding today. Meanwhile, controversy is beginning to surround one of its directors.

According to reporting by the Australian Financial Review (AFR), an offshore superannuation fund owned by Harker was included in the Pandora Papers.

The Samoan fund was reportedly made for Harker by a former employer. It was an attempt to avoid double taxation ahead of Harker’s planned move to the United Kingdom.  

However, according to the AFR, Harker also owned a second entity in Samoa. It’s said to have been “used to operate a discretionary trading account through a stockbroker”.

Harker has reportedly denied any wrongdoing. The AFR quoted Harker as saying:

None of these structures were used to avoid Australian tax at any stage. The ATO is fully aware of all my overseas assets and structures and I have never needed to pay any penalties in respect of these assets or income.

Harker was appointed to Westpac’s board in 2019. He was previously the CEO, managing director and, later, the vice-chair of Morgan Stanley Australia.

Westpac share price snapshot

Despite today’s dip, the Westpac share price has been performing well lately.

It has gained 31% since the start of 2021. It is also 48% higher than it was this time last year.

The post Own Westpac (ASX: WBC) shares? Here’s why the bank is making news appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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Motley Fool contributor Brooke Cooper has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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