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Working together to defeat crime

28 June 2021

In recent years, we’ve seen growing public awareness about money laundering and businesses are realising the threats that organised criminals pose, not only to them, but to our communities, people’s livelihoods, the safety of our children and our national security.

These criminals, and those of us that seek to stop them, are navigating a rapidly changing financial system and new advances in technologies and platforms. Criminals will exploit any gaps and use sophisticated methods to allude law enforcement efforts for their own personal greed. The Australian Institute of Criminology estimates that the cost of serious and organised crime to Australia in 2016–17 was up to $47.4 billion.

Federal, State and Territory Government regulators, intelligence, law enforcement agencies and financial services businesses must work together to address vulnerabilities in our financial sector, and as a regulator, we must educate and build understanding of these threats.

Since 2018, AUSTRAC has regulated cryptocurrency exchange providers to minimise the risk of criminals using them for money laundering, terrorism financing and cybercrime. We are working with new financial business to ensure they understand their obligations from the outset and where we can reduce the costs and burden of compliance. We are partnering with industry through AUSTRAC’s public-private Fintel Alliance to boost capabilities to detect financial crime where it is disguised by using multiple institutions. And our law enforcement partners have direct access to AUSTRAC’s information, conducting 2.1 million searches in 2019-20. In the same year, businesses submitted 165 million international funds transfer reports, 265 thousand suspicious matter reports and 2.2 million reports of cash transactions over $10,000.

Proactive reporting and support from industry, continued investment in people and technologies, proactive compliance and financial intelligence can be critical in combatting crime when combined with law enforcement investigations.

Removing profit from criminals and making it harder for them to exploit our financial system will have the greatest, long term impact on protecting our community from harm and it requires us all to do our part.

Nicole Rose PSM
AUSTRAC Chief Executive Officer