AUSTRAC joins Pacific partners to combat financial crime across the region

AUSTRAC has partnered with Papua New Guinea’s financial intelligence agency to host the first in person conference of the Pacific Financial Intelligence Community (PFIC), bringing together financial intelligence agencies from across the region.

Held in Port Moresby over two days, the conference will be an opportunity to strengthen regional capacity to combat financial crime including money laundering.

Responding to financial threats through the lens of regional cooperation is essential in an increasingly connected world, where financial transactions that pose a threat to safety can rapidly transit multiple countries.

As co-chairs of the PFIC, AUSTRAC and PNG’s Financial Analysis and Supervision Unit (FASU), will facilitate discussions to identify opportunities to pool intelligence and resources to combat money laundering, including through joint operations, research, and capacity building.

Technology has changed the financial landscape in the Pacific which transnational crime syndicates have targeted. The PFIC provides an effective way to mitigate these vulnerabilities, and ensure Pacific Islands are not seen as an attractive conduit by criminals.

AUSTRAC CEO, Nicole Rose, stated that financial transactions underpin every element of modern life and AUSTRAC brings a unique angle to regional security, seen through the prism of financial intelligence.

“As Australia’s financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC is about ensuring the security of our financial system, and keeping it free from criminal and national security threats. Australia’s financial security cannot be seen in isolation given our geographic proximity to the Pacific, and we cannot be safe if there are gaps in our region that can be exploited,” said Ms Rose.

“Sharing financial intelligence, tradecraft and financial tools is critical so that as a region of enduring Pacific partners, we are resistant to threats which undermine our collective financial security and community safety.”

“Issues like money laundering, drug and human trafficking, and corruption is not specific to any one nation and transcend international borders. This is why uplifting financial intelligence capability in Australia and across the Pacific is crucial to regional security, economic stability, and community confidence.”

Wilson Onea, Deputy Director of the Bank of Papua New Guinea’s FASU stated that a collective challenge that confronts the region is increased organised crime and corruption over the past few years.

“This presents problems that no single country on its own can address. Success in this environment will require a level of cooperation across the region that is, I believe, unprecedented in our time. Just as organised crime cooperates across multiple countries to exploit the relative advantages present in each jurisdiction, so must our efforts to detect and disrupt it,” said Mr Onea.

“The disruption of the crime that underpins these new challenges requires not only the accurate and timely identification of those involved, but it also demands the selection of the best jurisdiction within our region in which to take action against the perpetrators and their facilitators; identification of the most effective offences to target; and a choice as to the most efficient legal processes that can be applied on each occasion.

“These choices and decisions need to be made collectively – by representatives from all of the countries that comprise the PFIC – acting together in the mutual interest of the region, based on the best possible intelligence that we can obtain and provide. It is this, that the PFIC has been designed to achieve.”

In attendance at the PFIC Conference in Port Moresby are representatives from the financial intelligence units of Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.