Fintel Alliance is an AUSTRAC initiative established in 2017 to increase the resilience of the financial sector to criminal exploitation and support law enforcement investigations into serious crime and national security matters.
A world first public-private partnership, Fintel Alliance brings together experts from a range of organisations involved in the fight against money laundering, terrorism financing and other serious crime.
Fintel Alliance partners include major banks, remittance service providers and gambling operators, as well as law enforcement and security agencies from Australia and overseas. Working together, Fintel Alliance develops shared intelligence and delivers innovative solutions to detect, disrupt and prevent serious crime.
Financial crime guides
Fintel Alliance publishes resources to help businesses understand, identify and report suspicious financial activity to detect and prevent criminal activities.
Financial crime guides provide detailed information about the financial aspects of different crime types. They include case studies and indicators to help the financial services sector identify and detect suspicious transactions.
Businesses can use a combination of indicators in financial crime guides and their business knowledge to conduct further monitoring and identify if a suspicious matter report needs to be submitted to AUSTRAC.
Financial crime guides are developed in partnership by AUSTRAC’s Fintel Alliance, relevant government agencies, and our industry partners.
Fintel Alliance performance report 2021-22
Fintel Alliance’s performance report highlights our major operational achievements for 2021-22.
The report demonstrates how Fintel Alliance partners focussed on emerging and complex financial crimes in order to establish and progress projects aimed at protecting the most vulnerable members of the Australian community. Fintel Alliance continued to support law enforcement operations to protect the Australian community from serious crimes such as money laundering, abuse and fraud.
Key achievements include receiving international awards for projects targeting illegal wildlife trafficking and professional money laundering, contributing to the arrests of offenders for money laundering, breaches of protection orders and serious fraud. Fintel Alliance has also released public reports to prevent the exploitation of emergency and disaster payments, detect and stop ransomware, prevent the criminal abuse of digital currencies and other financial crimes.
Download Fintel Alliance’s performance report (PDF, 665KB) - This report is an extract of the AUSTRAC Annual Report 2021-22.
- Fintel Alliance performance report 2020-21 (PDF, 1.10MB)
- Fintel Alliance performance report 2019-20 (PDF, 3.59MB)
- Fintel Alliance annual report 2018-19 (PDF, 3.9MB)
How Fintel Alliance works
Fintel Alliance consists of representatives from public and private partner organisations that work together to combat complex or emerging crimes impacting the community that require a joint public private approach.
Fintel Alliance has an established program of work based on targeting priority themes including crimes targeting our most vulnerable community members, exploitation of government revenue, disrupting professional money laundering, and crimes and threats to Australia’s domestic and international interests.
Fintel Alliance partners work together at AUSTRAC’s offices in Sydney and Melbourne, sharing and analysing financial intelligence to investigate and disrupt criminal and terrorist activity.
There are two information-sharing hubs where partners collaborate:
- The Operations Hub – a physical space where partners exchange and analyse financial intelligence in close to real time, combining data with tracking tools and best-practice methodologies from their organisations.
- The Innovation Hub –partners co-design and test new and innovative technology solutions that assist in gathering and analysing financial intelligence at an operational level. They also assess the impact of emerging technologies such as blockchain and digital currency (or cryptocurrency).
A day in the life of Fintel Alliance
Targeting professional money launderers
Fintel Alliance partnered with the Western Australia Police Force to support an investigation into a money laundering syndicate involved in large-scale cash deposits into bank accounts in Western Australia.
Using knowledge of the cuckoo smurfing money laundering methodology, Fintel Alliance partners worked with the Western Australia Police and identified a money laundering syndicate attempting to move $5.4 million over a six week period. Fintel Alliance undertook predictive analysis to identify hot spot locations to enable operational arrangements to be in place to respond to offending as it happened. The offending included 1,879 cash deposits into 167 different bank accounts with 87 deposits recorded on a single day at ATMs in Perth totalling $193,500.
The partnership between Fintel Alliance and Western Australia Police contributed to significant operational outcomes including the arrest of five individuals, the seizure of cash, drugs and firearms and a community awareness campaign educating the public about the risks of third party cash deposits.
The close partnership has allowed law enforcement and financial institutions to focus on prevention and deterrence, with intelligence generated from the investigation leading to the arrest of additional offenders and the seizure of an additional $4 million.
Sharing information to combat child exploitation
Fintel Alliance worked closely with the New South Wales Police Force and PayPal Australia to identify financial transactions relating to the purchase of a child-like sex doll.
The project examined information and data provided by partner financial institutions that included indicators of the purchase of a child-like sex doll or associated materials. In January 2020, the project led to the arrest of a South Australian man who became the first person in Australia to be charged by the Australian Federal Police with possession of a child-like sex doll.
While still in operation, the project has contributed to over 20 different intelligence investigations and the arrest of four Australians for suspected child-like sex doll related offending. In a number of instances, the individuals identified and targeted as part of the project were not previously known for offending against children, demonstrating the role financial intelligence plays in detecting this type of offending, when combined with other forms of investigation information.
More broadly, since establishing a dedicated project in 2017 focused on combating child exploitation, AUSTRAC has significantly enhanced the application of financial intelligence to the targeting and disruption of child exploitation in Australia and internationally. Leveraging the capabilities of AUSTRAC’s public private partnership, the Fintel Alliance combatting child exploitation project has resulted in the arrest of individuals in Australia and the rescue of children from harm overseas. The project has increased the capability of financial institutions in Australia and internationally to detect and disrupt payments for child exploitation material.
Fintel Alliance published the Combating the sexual exploitation of children for financial gain activity indicators report to assist financial service providers and law enforcement agencies to detect suspicious transactions.
Fintel Alliance’s vision is to adopt innovative approaches to fighting financial crime by:
- standing as a centre of excellence for financial intelligence to help shape standards and approaches and develop financial analysts across industry and government
- equipping industry as the first line of defence against criminal exploitation by sharing financial intelligence, risk models and insights to reduce criminal activity
- sharing information in real-time that is secure and targeted to ensure the right person has access to the right information when they need it
- helping expand the establishment of public-private partnerships globally and leverage those partnerships in efforts to prevent, detect and disrupt criminal activity
- adopting new technologies and innovative ways to work with government and industry to improve our ability to detect and disrupt crime and drive positive change in the financial sector.
The Fintel Alliance operational strategy identifies the following strategic priorities:
- develop a stronger shared understanding of the threats posed by money laundering, terrorism financing and serious financial crime
- build resilience to serious financial crime through the activities and learnings of Fintel Alliance by enhancing the capabilities of public and private partners and the broader regulated community
- pursue improved sharing and innovative exploration of information including by building supporting infrastructure between public and private partners
- deliver the money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessments program
- identify and pursue operational activities that will deliver broader socio-economic benefits to the Australian community in addition to producing prevention and disruption outcomes
- demonstrate and make visible the value of Fintel Alliance through effective performance reporting and communication of outcomes.
- crimes affecting our most vulnerable community members – protecting children, the elderly and people with disability
- exploitation of government revenues – protecting Australia’s tax system and other government programs from abuse
- networked and complex financial crime – disrupting organised criminal enterprises that seek to exploit multiple businesses and industries
- nationally significant task forces and campaigns – supporting national operations including targeting Australia’s most wanted criminals, illicit drugs, transnational and serious organised crime, illegal firearms and support to other national efforts
- responding to regional and community harms – helping to address localised crime, address regional programs, and collaborate with regional partners
- technology and sophistication – responding to the most complex money laundering efforts through innovative approaches to data and information.
In 2019 the Australian Government committed $28.4 million over four years to expand the Alliance. This will significantly increase its capability and operational capacity.
Between 2019 and 2024 Fintel Alliance will:
- increase operations to target high-priority themes outlined above
- provide effective operational feedback, outcomes and current risk information to ensure industry is able to respond to the changing environment and report suspicious financial activity
- leverage technologies to provide the most effective collaborative working environment
- develop advanced technologies that will extend financial detection capabilities of AUSTRAC and industry.
Fintel Alliance has formed working groups which bring together government, law enforcement and financial industry partners focused on protecting Australians and combating trade-based money laundering.
The working groups encourage the sharing of information and approaches to combating financial crime, with identified learning and development opportunities benefiting all partners.
Tax Crime and Evasion Working Group
The Tax Crime and Evasion Working Group is co-chaired by the Australian Tax Office, the Westpac Bank and NAB, and brings together Commonwealth Government agencies and banking partners. The working group presents a forum for the sharing of information to identify, disrupt and prevent tax crime and evasion, with an additional focus on engaging with international partners.
Trade-Based Money Laundering Working Group
The Trade-Based Money Laundering Working Group is co-convened by AUSTRAC and the Australian Border Force. The working group meets monthly and has established a program of work to drive educational uplift and knowledge exchange, the development of shared operations, and support international efforts to combat and disrupt trade-based money laundering.
Membership to Fintel Alliance is by invitation from the AUSTRAC CEO, and reflects the Fintel Alliance’s operational and strategic objectives.
Fintel Alliance partners
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ)
- Australian Border Force
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC)
- Australian Federal Police (AFP)
- Australian Financial Crimes Exchange Ltd (AFCX)
- Australian Government Treasury
- Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
- Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
- Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)
- Deakin University
- Department of Home Affairs
- HSBC Bank Australia Limited
- Macquarie Bank Limited
- MoneyGram Payment Systems Inc.
- National Australia Bank Limited (NAB)
- National Crime Agency (UK)
- New South Wales Crime Commission
- New South Wales Police Force
- New Zealand Police – Financial Intelligence Unit
- PayPal Australia Pty Limited
- Queensland Police Service
- Tabcorp Ltd
- Services Australia
- Western Australia Police Force
- Western Union Financial Services (Australia) Pty Ltd
- Westpac Banking Corporation
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