Troubled Australian lender Westpac Banking Corp has recruited “battle-hardened” Scottish banker John McFarlane as chairman, writes Errika Askeland.

McFarlane, 72, will join Westpac’s board in February and take over as chairman in April, in a move designed to steer the bank through the fallout of a recent money-laundering scandal.

The scandal, which revealed 23 million breaches of anti money-laundering law, caused the resignation of chief executive Brian Hartzer and forced current chairman Lindsay Maxsted to retire.

McFarlane, who has moved to Australia, said in a statement he “hadn’t intended” to take on another major banking role but that he is “passionate about the Australian banking sector”. and “excited by the challenge of returning Westpac to its place as a leading global bank, following recent events”.

He added:“To some extent, the internal and external challenges ahead for Westpac are not dissimilar to those in my last five financial institutions, and I have therefore grown comfortable about my capacity to work with the board and management to effect the necessary change. Nevertheless, I’m sufficiently battle-hardened to realise things can be tougher than you think and that in banking, nothing is ever certain.”

Ex-ANZ CEO McFarlane was CEO of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) for ten years until 2007. In the UK he gained a reputation as a successful trouble shooter in UK board roles at RBS, First Group, and Aviva.